It was a sunny but chilly evening tonight so we decided to have a walk around the Churchyard. The wind has not been kind to many of the sandstone headstones, but some of the more sheltered ones still proudly bear the names of the long since departed. Many of those will have walked the way we did in times past and mused upon the stories and lives of those at peace. One headstone caught my eye - 'PHILIP LEWIS'- Beloved Husband Of Mary Lewis Of Kettleness - Died July 23rd 1912. Just why this particular inscription amongst the hundreds of others drew the eye I cannot say, but there was something in the way the Sun and shadows conspired to illuminate the stone which made me kneel and read the engraving. He was 57 when he died and lived in what was the small fishing village of Kettleness which lies on the Cleveland Way. Many ships were wrecked on its rugged approaches and 'Jet'- a semi-precious mineral was collected on the hazardous shoreline. Was Philip Lewis taken by the sea? Did he die of natural causes? Perhaps I shall dig deeper and bring you my findings at a later date, or perhaps I will forget - but it brings a kind of comfort that a man born nearly a hundred and fifty years ago still remains, however fleetingly, in the mind of the living.
It seems that Philip Lewis was not a man of the sea afterall. A search of local records, the 1881 Census and parish newspaper records, reveals that he was 'a farmers son'. He was the son of William Lewis (B 1814) who 'farmed 109 acres' around Kettleness. There is still a coastguard station in Kettleness, as there has been since Roman times. The current Auxilliary Coastguard in charge goes by the name of....William Lewis..