A funeral in the village was a great, though sad event involving many traditions and superstitions. When a person died, even in the middle of the night, some-one would have to go to the local coffin maker's home for the stretcher board. Chosen neighbour would then wash, dress and lay out the corpse on the board which lay over chairs. Special linen was always kept for such an event. White sheets covered the board and there was another to cover the body which was clothed in a white night-dress if female or a white shirt if male. Long, white woollen stockings covered the feet. Sometimes, if there was room, a clothes horse - a folding wooden erection for drying clothes - was at the head of the board and was also draped with white cloth.
When the burial arrangements were made, two chosen neighbours acted as bidders. If a man died two men each wore a black sash across one shoulder. For a woman, female bidders wore mauve and for a child a white sash was used. They would knock on everyone's door and say "You are invited to so and so's funeral, lift at 2 and bury at 3". Of course in those days communities were not so large and so everyone tended to know about the forthcoming funeral. Most Trimdon Grange and Trimdon Colliery burials took place in Kelloe churchyard and it meant everyone walking there. The glass hearse would be drawn by one or two horses wearing lovely feathery plumes as their headgear. The procession of walkers would form outside the house, where the coffin would be brought out and placed on chairs whilst hymns would be sung over it.
Tradition demanded the wearing of black and mourning close relatives would wear dark colours for a year afterwards. If this was not practical, a deep band was worn on the sleeve to show reverence. The white paper blinds at the windows of the deceased were kept drawn not just for the burial but for a few days afterwards. Boiled ham would be bought or a friend would cook a shoulder of ham and make pease pudding, for everyone was buried with ham and pease pudding otherwise it would be a disgrace.
Returning from the funeral, tea was laid out and the people, especially the men, congregated outside if there was no room indoors until it was time for the second 'sitting down. There was one old lady who made a point of attending every funeral in the village. She joined the procession and set off with it but as soon as it left the village she hurriedly returned to be sure of a 'first sitting' at the table. Until the time of fastening the coffin, the corpse would be on view to all the visitors. It was almost an insult if someone did not wish to look at the corpse when the veil was lifted from its face. There was an incident in one of the single houses in the Foundry. Having just one room, space was limited, so the corpse was at the foot of the large bed, which was lying sideways to the door. One visitor had her little girl with her who, of course, had to be very quiet. The child could not see any seat for herself and as she was tired, rested against the nearest backrest which was the end of the stretcher board. She must have leaned a bit too heavily because the board acted like a see saw alarming the assembled company as it and the corpse rose into the air. Needless to say, the house was soon empty.
At these sad times, folk relied on the insurance. When a baby was born it was immediately insured for a penny a week policy. This was continued and when the child grew up and was married it was often given the policy to be continued.
Friends and neighbours were all good helpers in these sad times, everybody being willing to assist. If a person had no money then they would be buried by the Parish in a paupers grave. This was a terrible thing for people to contemplate and it was a matter of pride to be able to pay for your own funeral. People tried to save to buy a headstone with a marble surround or a wax flower arrangement under a large glass globe.