Monday 20 October 2014

A painted coffin for Peaches as she makes her final journey

Kirsty Blake Knox in Davington, Kent

Published 22/04/2014 | 02:30

Lola Taylor, Debbie Leng and Tiger Lily Taylor arrive for the funeral of Peaches Geldof. Photo: Reuters
Lola Taylor, Debbie Leng and Tiger Lily Taylor arrive for the funeral of Peaches Geldof. Photo: Reuters
The church of St Mary Magdalene and St Lawrence, the venue for the funeral for Peaches Geldof, is seen in Davington, southeast England April 21, 2014. Geldof was found dead at her home on April 7, 2014.   REUTERS/Neil Hall  (BRITAIN - Tags: OBITUARY RELIGION)
The church of St Mary Magdalene and St Lawrence, the venue for the funeral for Peaches Geldof, is seen in Davington, southeast England April 21, 2014. Geldof was found dead at her home on April 7, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall (BRITAIN - Tags: OBITUARY RELIGION)
Peaches Geldof with her father Bob, husband Tom Cohen and son Astala on her wedding day.

IT was the shortest of journeys. But every step of it was laden with grief.

As the hearse containing Peaches Geldof's sky-blue coffin edged its way towards Bob Geldof's Priory Estate in Kent yesterday, the tragedy surrounding her death seemed to be thrown into sharp relief.

Locals in the village of Davington, who had gathered to pay their final respects, bowed their heads in sadness as the cloud-covered coffin passed by.

Bouquets of pink spring flowers were wrapped around the sides of the coffin while a portrait of Peaches and her husband Tom Cohen's young family adorned the side of the casket.

It all seemed too bright, too joyous, too young for such a harrowing occasion. This was compounded by the beams of glorious sunshine, the fairytale parish grounds covered in moss, the rickety wooden gables and the delicate birdsong filling the air.

The exuberance of the natural world and the picture-perfect setting made the sudden and unexpected death of Peaches all the more poignant.

"I choked up when I caught sight of the coffin," local resident Susan Morgan (49) told the Irish Independent. "It was heartbreaking.

"It made it real. She was such a bright girl. For her life to end like this is a tragedy."

On a pillar outside Geldof's home someone had scrawled the words 'RIP Peaches' in chalk alongside a love heart.

"I remember her mum Paula playing with the kids on the grounds of the church," resident Mary Butler Bennett (70) said. "And seeing Peaches do the same. This parish was her spiritual home." The night before the funeral, several locals said they saw Bob Geldof wandering around the winding roads of the village "trying to clear his head".

The church has huge resonance for the Geldof family, particularly Bob: it was where he married Paula Yates in 1986, where he christened his three daughters, where he walked Peaches down the aisle and where he laid the mother of his children to rest.

And now it has become the scene of his daughter's funeral.

"He's such a loving man," neighbour Ann Harris (76) said. "A kind man and decent. No one deserves this.

EMOTIONAL

"How are you supposed to go back to your normal life after something as terrible as this has happened? It shook the whole village."

Over 150 close friends and family members attended the emotional service, which was led by Mr Geldof.

Sarah Ferguson, Jools Holland, filmmaker Richard Curtis, former Boomtown Rat Pete Briquette, model Kate Moss, BP Fallon, broadcaster Nick Grimshaw, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, Alexa Chung and Jaime Winstone all ducked inside Geldof's home, which is located next to the small 1153 church.

Outside, the Kent police and a horde of security men kept the media at bay. Once the clock struck 1pm, everyone strained to hear something – anything really – but were met with silence. No wails or cries, just a deeply unsettling silence.

This was broken very briefly when a few bars of Ben E King's 'Stand By Me' were heard in the far distance. Then nothing.

Two hours later and one by one, the mourners began to file out.

Richard Curtis cradled his head as he was driven away, while Jaime Winstone was bundled into the back of a blacked-out SUV.

Kate Moss and her husband Jamie Hince left clutching an order of service – a photograph of Peaches on her wedding day decorated the front of the programme while a family portrait with her sons Astala and Phaedra was printed on the back.

Peaches said shortly before she died that life with "two babies who loved me more than anything is bliss".

Eventually the crowds thinned out and the family were left to mourn the "wildest, funniest, cleverest and wittiest" of all.

Irish Independent

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