Monday, 10 January 2022

The lost gasometers of Kensal Green and some miscellaneous photos of the cemetery

"Why so quiet
Vitruvius Wyatt?"
"Because I'm dead,"
he said.

Wynn Wheldon - Vitruvius Wyatt, a short poem (2016)

The iconic gas holders that overlooked Kensal Green cemetery from the other side of the Grand Union canal were demolished last year. I was looking through old photos of the cemetery to see if I had any unused ones and came across the two you see here, both taken on Christmas Eve, one in 2018 and one in 2019.  Gas holders no 5 and 6 have been part of the scenery of the cemetery for over 130 years (see Guy Vaes photos from the 1960’s here) and it is sad to see them gone to make way for new apartments (which will have a good view of the cemetery, though this is generally not acknowledged to be a selling point for some reason).  Gas holder No 5, the more diminutive of the pair was built in 1877-79 to the design of Vitruvius Wyatt the constructing engineer of the Gaslight and Coke Company. Vitruvius (to christen him with the name of the Roman architect and engineer, his father must have had his life and career plotted out for him before he was even born) is responsible for other famous gas holders at Bromley-by-bow and Beckton, all of them under threat of demolition. He chose not to be interred in Kensal Green when died in 1897 and so was spared the unpleasantness of watching his work dismantled and taken away as scrap iron. Instead, he was buried in Hampstead Cemetery where Wynn Wheldon no doubt spotted his grave and was inspired to write the short poem above, quite possibly knowing nothing more about his subject than his name. Gas holder No 6, the bigger of the two, was built in 1890-92 and designed by George Careless Trewby who was Engineer-in-Chief at the company and Vitruvius’ boss. He was also buried at Hampstead Cemetery.

The Kensal Green gas works were established in 1845 by the Western Gaslight Company who used bituminous coal brought by the canal produce cannel gas on the site. This was used to power gas lighting for affluent householders in St Pancras, Marylebone, Bloomsbury, Hampstead, Paddington and Chelsea. Cannel gas was more expensive to produce than coal gas but it produced a better flame. The news that the still semi-rural site was to be used for a gas works did not go down well with local ratepayers and businesses. The General Cemetery Company was as alarmed as anyone one else with a financial stake in the neighbourhood by ‘the alleged nuisance and serious injury to health and property’ and the impact a gas works could have on the cemetery. Interested parties met at the William the Fourth Tavern on Harrow Road on Thursday 08 October 1846 “to come to such resolutions as might be deemed expedient for averting the threatened evil.” The meeting was chaired by the vicar of St. Johns, the Rev. A. G. Pemberton, who commenced proceedings “by reading letters which he had received from the Rev. Warden of All Souls College, who was a landed proprietor in the neighbourhood, from the Kensal green Cemetery Company, and Mr. Jacobs and other gentlemen” who all vigorously opposed the opening of the new gas works. It all did no good, not even taking the matter to law, the gas works opened in 1847 and only closed in 1975. 

The tomb in the foreground of the top photograph belongs to Charles Babbage (1791-1871), mathematician, philosopher and inventor of the difference engine, generally acknowledged as the first mechanical computer. Babbage’s pickled brain now resides, neatly bisected, one half in the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincoln’s Inn Fields and the other in the Science Museum in Exhibition Road. I have been meaning to write about him for some time, I really must get my finger out.

The photograph above (like all the others, taken on 24th December in 2018 or 2019, is the tomb of William Mulready, the Irish painter, illuminated by the rays of the setting sun.   Mulready’s "six-poster Lombard Renaissance" monument is made of artificial stone and was designed by Godfrey Sykes who was one of the artists responsible for the decoration of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The monument, which features prominently on the Central Avenue of Kensal Green Cemetery, was exhibited at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle, where it won a prize. Mulready reclines, in life size effigy, on plush upholstery protected from the elements by a canopy. The base of the monument has incised representations of some of Mulready’s better known paintings as well as palettes and paint brushes and other symbols of the life of an artist.

The last two pictures are sunset scenes in the cemetery, the one above from 2018 and the one below from 2019. 

Monday, 3 January 2022

I Am Every Dead Thing; St Mary's Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green

For I am every dead thing,
In whom Love wrought new alchemy…
He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death: things which are not.

 John Donne - A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day

Covid has put an end to my traditional Christmas Eve cemetery visit as I’m no longer working in an office and so don’t get let out early for a half day holiday on the 24th.  Instead this year I took the afternoon off on the 21st December, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Before we finally gave in and accepted the Gregorian calendar in 1752 (after almost 200 years of spirited resistance to the Papists) the Winter Solstice used to fall on December 13, St Lucy’s day, ‘the year’s midnight’ as John Donne called it in his gloomy meditation on the 7 hours 49 minutes and 42 seconds of daylight we get in Southern England on the day of the solstice (but let us not complain, it is at least an hour more than they get in Aberdeen and two more than the Norwegians and Swedes get in Oslo and Stockholm). Sunset was at 3.53pm and the management at St.Mary’s Cemetery in Kensal Green wanted us out of there by 3.45. Cemeteries are always busy Christmas week and St. Mary’s was no exception. The older part of the cemetery was deserted apart from the gravediggers, who were hanging around tinkering with their mechanical diggers and reminding anyone in ear shot about the early closing time. At the bottom end of the cemetery where the newer graves are there was a steady stream of visitors, mainly arriving by car, bearing Christmas wreaths and decorations as a seasonal alternative to flowers. Poinsettias and tinsel adorned many graves, some of them very elaborately decorated for the nativity. I felt too self-conscious to take photos of the newer graves but this relatively recent trend of decking out memorials with holly and fairy lights is quite interesting. When you drive past Chingford cemetery at night at this time of year the place glows eerily with solar powered LED string lights. St. Mary’s isn’t visible from the road and the gravediggers make sure everyone is out before sundown but I bet it presents an equally festive appearance in the dark.    

St. Mary’s was in the news recently for being the location of one of the increasingly senseless murders that seem to be becoming a feature of urban life in London. On the afternoon of 22 November 2020 61-year-old Michael Morris-Owens was sitting on bench in the cemetery close to the Chapel. A stranger, 51-year-old Cornelius Tully engaged him in casual conversation. When Morris-Owens refused to shake Tully’s hand, possibly because this was during one of last years lockdowns, the younger man apparently took offence and produced a bayonet which he rammed in Morris-Owens stomach. The wounded man fled with Tully in pursuit, slashing at him from behind and tried to get into his parked car. Tully hacked him down by his vehicle, inflicting over thirty wounds with the bayonet. Other visitors to the cemetery tried to intervene, at first to stop the attack and then to try and save Morris-Owens but he was pronounced dead by paramedics when they arrived at the scene. Tully didn’t try to escape; he waited until armed police arrived and then gave himself in. He appeared at the Old Bailey on 14 September 2021 via video link from a secure mental hospital in Three Bridges to plead guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. On November 11 he was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order, meaning that he will only be released if psychiatrists agree that he is no longer a danger to himself or others. After having been murdered there Michael Morris-Owens was buried at St Mary’s on 04 March 2021. 

There was a particularly sad funeral held at the cemetery on Tuesday 08 December 1953. 5-month-old Tomunatanye Davis was buried with just a priest, her mother Veronica, a representative from her mother’s employer, the United Africa Company, and an African nurse from Hammersmith Hospital in attendance. The floral tributes were a sheaf of flowers from the company and a bunch of violets presented by a Girl Guide troop. Tomunatanye had died on 03 December during an operation held at Hammersmith Hospital to separate her from her conjoined twin sister Wariboko. The twins were born in Kano, Nigeria on 25 July 1953 and became an immediate media sensation when they were flown to England to be separated. The operation was carried out by Scottish surgeon Professor Ian Aird who was no doubt hoping to make history by carrying out the first successful surgical separation of conjoined twins. Unfortunately, Tomunatanye died in the operating theatre though Wariboko survived. The funeral of Tomunatanye on the 8th did not stop the Daily Mirror crowing about the operation as a triumph of British imperialism the following day; 

BABIES OF IMPORTANCE   EVERY mother in Britain is keeping her fingers crossed for baby Boko, the survivor of the Siamese twins from Nigeria. She is the most famous baby in the world - the piccaninny who stole the headlines from Winston, Ike and Georgyi.

Boko is noticing people. Hear that, Mum? Boko is sucking her fist, now. Just listen, Dad! This is the battle for recovery that grips all parents. And behind the battle is the other story. Of the twins' journey to London with their mother - paid for by their father's firm. How a Scottish surgeon, giving his services free, separates the twins in a London hospital.

THIS is the " imperialism" we—and Boko's mother—are proud of. Boko is its bonny emblem. And not the only one. For, 2,000 miles away, an important Egyptian baby has been rushed British medical care.

He is Mohammed, son of Major Salem, Egypt's Minister of National Guidance. Salem talks hatred of British "imperialism." But he appealed for help to the British Army in the Suez Canal Zone when his baby developed infantile paralysis. GOOD FOR HIM! A British specialist and nurses raced to Cairo. An iron lung was flown from this country. Now Mohammed, like Boko, is doing better. Bless them both. They stand for so much decency and humanity between nations. Their stories make CHEERFUL reading. Britain has a right to feel happy about them both.

Wariboko and her mother returned to Nigeria just three weeks after the operation.  Veronica Davis went on to have another pair of twins, not conjoined this time, both of whom in infancy. She later died giving birth to a still born baby before Wariboko was old enough to remember her. Wariboko was brought up by a Mr and Mrs Jituboh and became a nurse. She is, as far as I know, still alive, she certainly was in 2015. Professor Ian Aird committed suicide in 1962. 

Another sad funeral was that of artists model Norine Fournier Lattimore, a story widely syndicated in the newspapers and here taken from the Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail of  Friday 10 August 1934; 

ONLY FOUR MOURNERS Funeral of Former Famous Model

Only four mourners, headed bv her father. Mr E. Scholfield, attended the funeral of Dolores the famous model, at Kensal Green Catholic Cemetery, London, to-day. During her stage and studio life Dolores’ friends had been legion. The service at the graveside was conducted by Father Pelors, a French priest. On the coffin was a wreath of lilies from Dolores’ father bearing the inscription. "God rest your soul.— Papa" and a posy of sweet peas. There were two other wreaths at the graveside from friends. The burial was in a public grave. 

Norine Schofield was born in London in 1934 into a theatrical family. She was raised in Islington and a junior Tiller girl before moving to Paris where she joined the company of L'Opéra Comique where she met Sarah Bernhardt, danced with Anna Pavlova and danced before Kaiser Wilhelm who presented her with a gold powder box. She became an artists model for Jacob Epstein and a clothes model for Norman Hartnell. She married three times and at least two men reputedly committed suicide because of her, her first husband Frank Amsden and the artist Frederick Atkinson. Norine protested “I am not a heartless vampire,” after her conduct came under criticism at Atkinson’s inquest. Her life ended in straightened circumstances at the age of 40, her last public appearance in public being "fasting in a barrel" at a fun-fair in Tottenham Court Road, a position she took over from Harold Francis Davidson the disgraced vicar of Stiffkey who had been defrocked because of a scandal involving prostitutes (he was, I feel impelled to point out, an Anglican priest, not a catholic one). She died of cancer in St Mary Abbot's Hospital, Marloes Road, Kensington, on 8 August 1934.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

"Stuffed to the gills with Cockney Mums and Dads": Tower Hamlets Cemetery, Southern Grove, E3

Tower Hamlets Cemetery hit the headlines last summer when a 50-year-old gay man, Ranjith ‘Roy’ Kankanamalage, was found dead with serious head injuries on the morning of 16 August. Whilst not in the same league as Abney Park, the cemetery is a well-known cruising spot and the police are working on the theory that Roy was killed in a homophobic attack. Despite two arrests no one has been charged with the murder. The reasons that make a location a good cruising ground - seclusion, rampant undergrowth, lack of CCTV cameras - also make them dangerous in the event of an attack and hinder investigations into crimes committed there. When Marcus Barnett, the Police Commander of Hackney and Tower Hamlets made a public appeal for information earlier this week there was an air of desperation about it, “I am firmly of the belief that there is somebody, somewhere in London or outside of London now, that was there and knows something or has some information,” he said, “They would've heard of a name. If they have something, however big or small that may be, that would help us move our inquiry forward to find the people or person responsible and to get justice for Roy and his family and friends.” No doubt adding to its frisson, and its dangers, cruising in the cemetery takes place at night – unlike other cemeteries Tower Hamlets never closes its gates and is accessible 24 hours a day. 

The City of London and Tower Hamlets Cemetery Company opened the cemetery in 1841. It was the last of the magnificent seven to open for business and its location, in the poor and overcrowded East End inevitably destined it to have a rather different character from the other joint stock company cemeteries.  None of this would have been evident when the cemetery was consecrated by the Bishop of London on the 4th September. The Morning Post reported that even “though the weather was exceedingly unfavourable, owing to the heavy and unintermitting rains, the attendance” at the consecration “was numerous and respectable” and included the Lord Mayor of London, Sir John Pirie, a shipbroker who also happened to be a major shareholder in the cemetery company (he displayed some reluctance to mix company with his East End customers though, choosing to be buried in West Norwood when he died in 1851).  When the soggy Bishop concluded the ceremony of consecration by pronouncing the apostolic benediction the waterlogged company separated, according to the Morning Post “the largest portion of them adjourning to a neighbouring marquee, in which a cold collation was provided. The number of persons who sat down to the collation were about two hundred, among whom were a great number of fashionably dressed ladies.” The newspaper adds that “the first interment took place on Saturday afternoon, very shortly after the ceremony of consecration had taken place.”

The first entry in the cemetery register

That first burial, which took place close to the main entrance gate, was of 61-year-old Walter Gray of Alfred Street in Bow. His grave was paid for by his widow Sarah; £3 3 shillings for a 6 ½ foot by 2 ½ foot grave plot which according to the burial register was dug to a depth of 9 feet.  The following year a journalist from the British Statesman paid a visit to the “lately-opened place of sepulture …situated a short way beyond the Mile-end gate, on the road leading to Bow” and wrote admiringly of the “spreading field destined for the long repose of its sleepers.”  They singled out the grave of Walter Gray and “admired the carefully tended flowers that grew upon its summit, we saw that sufficient space had been left around it for the occupancy of all the generation. The grave was that of an old man, sixty-one, and the beauty and elegance of the manner in which it is kept, the wallflower blooming in all its prodigality of loveliness,” and noted that “the violet and the pink, the carnation and the rose, vies with each other in proclaiming the attendance which some loving mourner gave to the spot.” They noted the bucolic charms of the former cabbage fields:

The ground commands a bold view of Shooter's and Greenwich hills, which appear as if borne up by the spiral masts of the crowded shipping in the docks, while the tall trees seen from every quarter wave in graceful and silent adoration of the place. The soft and balmy air played gently over our heads, while ever and anon a rich and healthy breeze swept by among the thick clover grass which occupies the unappropriated ground. Here might be seen "A populous solitude of bees and birds;" while now and then a vagrant butterfly pursued its changeful way, as if it was denied all place of rest.

Walter Gray’s widow Sarah never seems to have joined him in his grave but he didn’t stay there alone for ever. In 1863 he was joined by 60-year-old Mary Oliver and then, over the course of the following 12 years by a clutch of children, the offspring of William and Mary Pomphrett of 68 Broad Street in Ratcliff (Stepney); 16-month-old Alfred in 1864, 21-month-old Charles Henry Pomphrett in 1868, 3-year-old Frederick Edward in 1869 and 4-year-old Frederick Alfred in 1875. It is difficult to imagine how 6 coffins managed to fit in a grave that was only 9 feet deep.  As well as overfilling graves the company was accused of allowing the cemetery to become run down, what Ian Nairn described as “man and nature having combined to produce a macabre case of statutory overcrowding…” Correspondence to the editor of Tower Hamlets Independent and East End Local Advertiser in August 1882 described a visit to the cemetery; “I very much regret to state some parts of the cemetery more resemble a wilderness than any place I could suggest. Fragments of tombstones here and there are to be seen strewn about the path. Not only this but the whole paraphernalia of a grave. A little further on. too. numerous dead cats and dogs presented themselves to the visitors notice…” A different correspondent in June the same year took exception to what he considered to be blatant untruths in the Cemetery Clerk’s report to the board. The clerk stated, he said, that a complaint had been received “that there was only three inches of earth between certain coffins in certain graves on a certain day. I myself have seen a child's grave a layer of earth so thin upon a tier of three coffins that I could plainly see the blue and white coffins through it, and it was then ready for the neat tier, though I cannot now particularise the grave.” He goes on to say that the clerk says that there should be a depth of nine or ten inches between coffins in common graves and that he had been backed up by the cemetery foreman and his assistant who both averred that they had never known an instance when this rule was not adhered to. “Now it would well to know how long the foreman and his assistant have held office,” retorted the correspondent “for if they, following their daily calling of digging graves and filling them in, never remember an instance of failure in the depth of earth between the coffins, I, who seldom go to the Cemetery, ‘do know an instance.' As a parent it was my painful duty to bury in the Tower Hamlets Cemetery two full-grown daughters, requiring full-sized graves. They were both buried in one grave, and I, as in duty bound. paid for two graves; but, so far as nine or ten inches, or even three inches of earth between them, the Company or their servants did not give much as ‘dust to dust and ashes to ashes’ between the coffins. So then I paid for two bottoms and only got one, and that one did not hide the coffin underneath.”

On Monday 2ndd June 1890 the Hackney and Kingsland Gazette ran the following story about overcrowding at the cemetery:

The over-crowding of some of the London cemeteries not a new subject by any means, but it has just been revived the instance of the Church of England Burial Reform Association at a meeting held a few evenings ago at the Oxford Hall, in Bethnal Green. Some startling disclosures were made, mainly based upon the Parliamentary return issued last year, from which it appears that 247,000 bodies are buried in 17 acres, of the 85 acres of the Tower Hamlets Cemetery, the first interment in which took place only 50 years ago, and that the average grave is 7 feet by 3 feet, and in each grave 8 adults or 14 children are interred, each coffin being covered and surrounded with one foot of earth, with only average of 4 feet above the topmost coffin. Statistics as to other London cemeteries show that 109,000 bodies are buried at Lambeth, 80,000 at Paddington, 73,000 Norwood, 65,000 at Nunhead, 56,000 at Kensal Green, 76,000 at Highgate, 50,000 at Deptford, 135,000 at Brompton, and lessor numbers in other cemeteries. One of the speakers denounced the pit system of burial, by which not fewer than 70 corpses were piled in one huge grave; and another speaker stated that about eight years ago a committee found that at the Tower Hamlets Cemetery 83 children were buried in a grave or trench 6 feet 6 inches by 2 feet 6 inches. This led to Order in Council limiting the number to be buried in one grave, but there was reason to believe that the regulation was evaded. It is only fair to state that the Secretary of the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Company wrote to the meeting, to the effect that the burial of large number of young children in one grave took place many years ago, but that the Order in Council prohibiting the burial of more than a fixed number in one grave had been strictly complied with.

The cemetery was bought by the Greater London Council in 1966 for £100,000 and finally closed for burials. The total number of interments is now estimated to be around 350,000. 


Tuesday, 30 November 2021

The Mysterious Amos Grave; City of London Cemetery

This unusual grave is a complete mystery; I can find out nothing about it. It contains no names other than Amos which I presume is the occupant’s surname but could equally be a first name. There are no dates but the memorial is very recent I think, probably no more than five years old. I first saw it three years ago and the few photos of it on the web are all from the last couple of years. It is on a side path in a section of burials that have taken place since 2000, all of them with large memorials. The others however, expensive as they no doubt were, all look like Chinese headstones, grey granite jobs ordered from a catalogue. The Amos grave is a rare bespoke memorial clearly designed to reflect the tastes and interests of the deceased and produced by a local firm of monumental masons. A lurcher rests at the front of the grave, side panels feature a hare and a jaunting car and the large headstone a cockerel. On the reverse of the headstone are three poems (or excerpts from poems); the middle section is a quotation from ‘Hamlet’ but the other two (‘Lurchers and longdogs were my delight…’ and ‘In the quiet of the night he sits, to all intents asleep’ (about a hare)) seem to be unpublished. The deceased is likely to have lived locally, somewhere in East London or the Essex borders and died recently but even with just a surname to go on it is impossible to say who exactly they were.

I worked in the Royal Docks between 2009 and 2011 and I recall seeing a jaunting car being driven around the streets of Beckton. I wonder….   

Friday, 12 November 2021

Mama, Grandmoo, Visabuela; Dar Durnford Slater (1897-1982) Kensal Green Cemetery


The memorial of Dar Durnford Slater, who was born in 1897 and died in 1982 is rather plain, tastefully lettered to be sure but very unshowy. It is a solidly middle-class tombstone and on it Dar is described as mama, grandmoo and visabuela.  It was a mixture of the unusual first name and the Spanish word for grandmother that attracted my attention and made me wonder if I could find out a little more about who was buried here and whether there was an Iberian or South American connection.  

Dar Durnford Slater was born in Bayswater in July 1897 to George Samuel Ferdinando and his wife Lilian Mabel (nee Duke). She was baptised with the doubly unglamourous forenames Gladys Ethel on 18 July 1898 when the family were living at 29 Grove End Road in St. John’s Wood in what would probably have been a substantial family house (since demolished). Her father’s occupation is variously listed as surveyor and estate agent but whatever he did, he was evidently very successful at it as by 1911 the family were living at Shiprods Manor in the village of Slinfold near Horsham in Sussex. George and Mabel had 5 children living with them in the manor and 6 servants including a cook, a parlourmaid, two housemaids, an under housemaid, a kitchen maid and a 19-year-old chauffeur.  The family name is unusual being a corruption of Ferdinand or possibly Fernandes. Her father appeared as a witness in a libel case in January 1917 brought by a German national, a Mr Maximilian Lindlar, who took the editor and publishers of the journal ‘The Pianomaker’ to court for accusing him of using expressions unfriendly to England and of taking steps, after the Services club had entered into possession of the German Athenaeum club, to oust British officers from the premises. George Ferdinando appeared as a witness to the defence and proudly told the judge that his family settled in England between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The earliest Ferdinando ancestors seem to have been Portuguese Marranos who settled in England in the mid-17th century. This distant relationship seems to have been Dar’s closest connection to Iberia.

After the end of the first world war Gladys Ethel married Alan Farquharson, a man 22 years her senior, probably in Jamaica. The marriage lasted only a short time as Farquharson died in 1922 leaving her a widow at just 25. She married again in 1935, once again in the colonies but this time in India, in Bombay. This time her husband John Durnford Slater, a British army officer, was 12 years younger than her, a callow 26 to her 38.  Her husband became something of a celebrity in World War II when he became the first British commando, appointed as the Lieutenant Colonel of No 3 Commando.  Officering commando units was a more hands-on role than senior army positions usually are and Durnford Slater took part in several raids and did his fair share of strangling German guards with piano wire on moonless nights in Norway. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his part in Operation Archery, a raid on the Lofoten Islands and the port of Vaagso where the attack "lost five out of six officers, & nearly 40% of their effective [strength]" and was in danger of collapsing until he personally stepped into the breach under heavy fire and took control. A photograph of Durnford Slater collecting his DSO from Buckingham Palace appeared in The Tatler in July 1942 and shows him with Dar and his daughter Jennifer. He received a bar to his DSO (effectively meaning he was awarded two DSO’s) for Operation Husky in Italy where he and his men held a bridge against the Germans despite being outgunned and outnumbered. His citation said that he showed a ‘complete disregard for [his own] personal safety’ during the operation, something his men apparently found inspirational. There is a further photograph of him collecting this award in 1944, again with Dar and a slightly older Jennifer.  

After the war Durnford Slater went into the reserves and became a bursar at Bedford School. He died in 1972 in mysterious circumstances at Haywards Heath station according to The People of Sunday 06 February;

Brigadier John Durnford Slater, Britain's first Commando in World War I, was killed yesterday when he fell under the Brighton Belle train at Haywards Heath station, Sussex. Brigadier Slater, 63, who lived in Brighton. was waiting on the platform when the train went through at 60 m.p.h. Awarded the D.S.O. in 1942 for bravery in Norway. He wrote a book, "Commando" about his war exploits.

If there was an inquest (and there surely was) it seems not to have been reported in the papers. If this had been a tragic accident then again you would expect this to have been mentioned in the reports. It is very difficult not to conclude that the war hero committed suicide. Probate records show that he left a very small estate of just £1504. Dar would have been 75 at the time of her husband’s death. If she was living in Brighton with him she must have moved back to London otherwise, why would she be buried in Kensal Green?

The headstone also memorialises Dar’s daughter Jennyfer, a biologist, whose ashes are buried at Old Furzefield Wood (Potters Bar?).

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

"I have no bone to pick with graveyards..."; Kensal Green Cemetery, 02.11.2020


“Personally I have no bone to pick with graveyards, I take the air there willingly, perhaps more willingly than elsewhere, when take the air I must.  The smell of corpses, distinctly perceptible under those of grass and humus mingled, I do not find unpleasant, a trifle on the sweet side perhaps, a trifle heady, but how in­finitely preferable to what the living emit, their feet, teeth, armpits, arses, sticky foreskins and frustrated ovules. And when my father’s remains join in, however modestly, I can almost shed a tear. The living wash in vain, in vain perfume themselves, they stink. Yes, as a place for an outing, when out I must, leave me my graveyards and keep—you—to your public parks and beauty-spots. My sandwich, my banana, taste sweeter when I’m sitting on a tomb, and when the time comes to piss again, as it so often does, I have my pick. Or I wander, hands clasped behind my back, among the slabs, the flat, the leaning and the upright, culling the inscriptions. Of these I never weary, there are always three or four of such drollery that I have to hold on to the cross, or the stele, or the angel, so as not to fall.”

Samuel Beckett ‘First Love’ (1946)

He had a vivid way with words, dearly departed Samuel Beckett, doyen of the shabby, the slovenly and the threadbare; a frowsy tang wafts from the page as you leaf through one of his books. By modern standards I imagine the general population in 1946 did not smell particularly fresh. But however stale and sweaty they were they surely smelled better than the dead? Hot running water, showers, toothpaste, dentistry, deodorant and changing underwear have all become much more common than they were 75 years ago and most of us now are relatively inoffensive, olfactorily speaking. I do think I know what he means about the slightly sweet smell of a corpse though; occasionally I do get a waft of it in cemeteries but having said that I’ve never been sure that I am not imagining it.   

Monument of HRH Princes Sophia, daughter of George III

First thing this morning my phone flashed up a One Drive notification, ‘On this day…’, reminding me that last year, on this day, the second of November, I had been taking photographs in Kensal Green Cemetery. I had spent the weekend in Norwich, a last fling before yet another lockdown which had been announced by Boris Johnson on the Saturday just as we were getting ready to leave our hotel on Tombland (surely the best street name in England?) and go out to find something to eat. Despite the brand new lockdown I had a legitimate, work related, reason to be out and about on Monday. I had to visit a property in North Wembley but once I’d finished Kensal Green was only a minor detour on the way home. It was beautiful, crisp, sunny autumn day and I had the cemetery to myself.  I took my first photo of the day, at the cemetery gate on Harrow Road at 13:19 and my last at 14:37, so I was there for just over an hour.  I took nearly seventy pictures so one a minute almost. These were the best shots on what was a flying visit.   

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Buried with her baby in her arms and her coffin draped with the Spanish Republican flag: Conchita Supervia (1895-1936) Liberal Jewish Cemetery, Willesden

I first visited the Liberal Jewish Cemetery in Pound Lane in Willesden in the pre-pandemic summer of 2019. I was intrigued by an unusual grave in which a large circular altar-like stone block is supported on the back of four tortoises. Despite a plaque saying the grace had been ‘restored by her admirers in 2006’ I couldn’t read the name and had no idea who was buried here. Meller and Parson’s ‘London Cemeteries’ gave me a bit more detail; in the cemetery “the most unusual memorial dated 1936, comprises four stone tortoises which support a curved sided pedestal confined between two discs, the upper inscribed with the name Conchita Rubenstein who ‘Died with her daughter’.” This was as far as I got with my research; I parked Mrs Rubenstein intending to come back to her when I had more time only to find Sheldon from the Cemetery Club getting in there before me. In his blog post just a few weeks after I visited the cemetery Sheldon revealed that Mrs Rubenstein was in fact Conchita Supervía, a Spanish opera singer born in Barcelona in 1895. Some sources say she made her stage debut at the age of 15 at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and others say that she was only fourteen when Richard Strauss himself chose her to play in Rosenkavalier at the Royal Opera in Rome. She sung all over Europe as well in South America and the United States. She made over 200 recordings and even had a film part as singer Baba L'Etoile in a 1934 British production called Evensong based on the life of Dame Nellie Melba. Some accounts of her life politely say she married twice but none of them mention the name of her first husband by whom she had a son, Jorge.  In 1930 she converted to Judaism, married a Mr Benzion Rubenstein and came to live in London. She died in childbirth at the age of 40.  

The Aberdeen Press and Journal of Tuesday 31 March 1936 gives an account of the distressing circumstances of her death under the headline ‘Famous Prima Donna's Sudden Death’;

Madame Conchita Supervia, the famous Spanish prima donna, died in a London nursing home yesterday. She was the wife of Mr Ben Rubinstein, an English timber broker and fruit farmer. Madame Supervia was expecting a baby, and only on Sunday went into the nursing home "very happy and very well." At 11 a.m. yesterday the baby was still-born. A clot of blood developed, and. despite the efforts of the doctors, Madame Supervia died.

A few days later the Dundee Evening Telegraph gave an account of her funeral:

With the body of her child in her arms, Conchita Supervia, the coloratura contralto, was buried at the Liberal Jewish Cemetery, Willesden, to-day. Her coffin was draped with the new Republican flag of Spain red, purple, and yellow, and rested upon arum lilies sent by her husband and her son from the garden which was such a source of pleasure to her at her home at Rustington, Sussex. The ceremony was according to the Jewish rites, with its centuries' old traditional prayers, but there was no singing. Many of the wreaths on the wet grass by the graveside were without names, and were from admirers who had heard but never forgotten her voice. One of these: typical of others, bore the inscription—"That I may sometimes hear the echo of her voice in the moonbeams." About 200 people were present at the ceremony, and they included Senor Dr Perez D'Ayala. the Spanish Ambassador, and his wife. The mourners included Mr Ben Rubenstein, her husband, and George, her 17- year-old son, together with numerous other relatives and friends. Rev. M Perizweg recited the committal words, first in Hebrew and then in English. As his voice pronounced the words—"May she come to her rest in peace," Mr Rubenstein dropped earth into the grave and the son performed the same symbolic action with the recitation of the prayer of resignation to the will of God. Among the masses of spring flowers was a wreath of tulips, lilies and daffodils from the Spanish Ambassador and his wife. Others who sent flowers included the directors of the Royal Opera House and Violet Lady Melchett, whose wreath bore the inscription— "In loving remembrance of darling Conchita."

Her memorial is designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens who was also responsible for the Phillipson mausoleum in Golders Green.

Monday, 4 October 2021

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman; Hester Hammerton (1711-1746) All Saints, Kingston-Upon-Thames


I came upon an account of the life of Hester Hammerton, the once celebrated female sexton of Kingston-upon-Thames in Kirkby’s Wonderful and Eccentric Museum. For those unfamiliar with this publication it is an early 19th century compendium of the marvellous and the bizarre; it contains biographies of the singular characters of the age (the Chevalier D’Eon and Joseph Merlin for example), accounts of calamities, (shipwrecks, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes etc), details of monstrous births, (four legged cockerals, two headed calves and numerous conjoined twins), prodigious eaters (a polish man who regularly ate 5 pounds of raw beef and 10 tallow candles at one sitting) and stories of miraculous escapes from death (Elizabeth Woodcock of Impington who survived 8 days buried alive in snow). Whilst written to appeal to the sensation seeker it has to be conceded that its articles are generally well informed and that its contributors often took pains to establish their facts.

Kirkby’s tells us that Hester Hammerton was baptised on March 16 1711. Her father Abraham performed the office of sexton of All Saints Church “in which his daughter was accustomed to assist him.” Hester and her brother-in-law Thomas German were both with their father on the 2nd of March 1730, digging a grave for a Mr George Hammond of London. Also present were Richard Milles and Sarah Smith. They were digging too close to one of the main pillars of the Chapel of St Mary; the vicar Dr Rawlinson, explained in a letter to a friend exactly what happened next:

On Monday last, our sexton, with his son and daughter, being employed in digging a grave, part of the ancient chapel of St Mary’s fell in upon them, killed the sexton and one other man, Richard Mills, on the spot, bruised and wounded several others and buried in the grave both the son and daughter for above three hours, during which time many were employed in digging out the rubbish, in order to get at the bodies that were buried. After the removal of the timbers, and several loads of rubbish, they heard very plainly some loud groans and cries in the grave. Soon after, they came to the heads of two persons: the man was speechless and almost dead, having his head closely confined between two stones; the woman was not so much pressed; but being immediately taken care of by Dr. Cranmer, they are both in a fair way of recovery. The Bailiffs and Churchwardens by their great humanity and diligence on this occasion had a great share in preserving the lives of the two persons abovementioned, by the speedy removal of the rubbish and by keeping off the crowd who pressed in upon the labourers in great numbers. The damage besides the lives already lost is computed to amount to above £1000.

The entry from the parish register at All Saints showing the burial of Abraham Hammerton and Richard Milles on the 5th March -'killed by the fall of the church' and Sarah Smith on the 15th.  

Abraham Hammerton and Richard Milles were both killed on the spot but the vicar was writing too soon to know that Sarah Smith would also eventually die of her injuries. Abraham and Richard were both buried on the 5th March, Sarah was not buried until the 15th. Hester and her brother-in-law Thomas both survived and Hester inherited her father’s position as sexton to the parish though luckily her injuries prevented her first job being the melancholy one of digging her own father’s grave. Kirkby’s describes Hester as a ‘strong, lusty woman of a comely countenance.’ It claimed that injuries received in the accident prevented her from ever wearing stays again and says that ‘her usual dress therefore was a man's waistcoat and hat, a long loose gown and a silk handkerchief tied round her neck.’ On Sundays she would bow to convention and ‘dress extremely clean and neat, in a gown of the then fashion, a mob cap with frilled border and ribbon, and a nosegay in her bosom.’  The writer says that Hester ‘was very fond of all kinds of manly diversions, such as cricket, football, bull baiting, also of smoaking and associating with men but nevertheless, she preserved her moral character unimpeached. If any person offered to take liberties with her, she never failed to resent the affront and her fist inflicted merited chastisement on the offender. She possessed great bodily strength and would dig all the graves and ring the great bell herself. She died at Kingston and was buried February 28 1746 in the 35th year of her age.’

Hester's burial recorded in the parish register for 28 February 1746

Hester was instrumental in apprehending Philip Wilkinson and William Sweet, two Londoners who came down to Kingston with the intentions of robbing the communion plate from the church. Hester wandered into church to ring the two o’clock bell and found the two men ripping off the gold lace and fringe of the pulpit hangings. Incensed the doughty Hester grabbed one of the men by the collar and threw him over the reading desk and into the pew below. Whilst she was occupied the other thief crept up on her from behind and hit her over the head with a blunt instrument, stunning her and allowing both robbers to flee the scene. A few days later a boy was caught lurking around the church and suspected of being somehow being involved in the robbery. He denied this but said that if he was released, he would tell the authorities who had robbed the church. His information led to the capture and arrest of Wilkinson and Sweet. The pair were tried at Kingston Assizes on 10th April 1735 and being found guilty of sacrilege, sentenced to death.  The Derby Mercury of 17th April gives this account of their execution;

On Thursday, soon after One o'Clock, Philip Wilkinson and William Sweet, were executed in the Market-Place at Kingston. They said they forgave the Boy and the Woman who were instrumental in their Death; desired the Prayers of the Spectators; and just before they were turn'd off, declar'd, as they were dying Men, that they were innocent of the Fact for which they suffer'd, nor had they been guilty of any Robbery whatsoever; and that they never saw the Boy or Woman before they came to appear against them.

Kirkby’s gives the following postscript to the story;

The bodies of the above two men, after execution, were carried into the Castle Inn yard, and no particular account was given of them afterwards. As christian burial was refused them, on account of the crime of sacrilege, of which they had been convicted it was not till above seventy years afterwards that a discovery was made, which seems to clear up this matter. August 25 1807 - As some workmen were digging a hole in the garden of Mr. John Smallpiece the butcher, near Clattern-bridge (late Mr. Laming's garden) the skeletons of two men lying together were discovered. These were conjectured to be the remains of Wilkinson and Sweet. The garden in which they were found was a bowling green, and belonged to the Castle Inn, at the time when the bodies of those two men were left in the yard, and there is no reason to doubt that, as it was generally supposed, they were buried in that bowling green.

Friday, 24 September 2021

A hidden gem; the headstone of Godfrey Mercer (1696-1730), St. Mary's & All Saints, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

I was in Chesterfield earlier this week for a funeral. Despite being in exactly the right location funerals are, frustratingly, not occasions that usually present the opportunity to do any cemetery exploring. I would have quite liked to have a look around Brimington Cemetery (which apparently dates from the 1870’s), but I was otherwise occupied at the crematorium and it is bad form to slip off after the service to roam aimlessly around the headstones as though you don’t give a fig for the deceased. I arrived at Chesterfield 15 minutes before my lift to the funeral which did give me the opportunity to walk the two hundred yards from the station to St Mary’s and All Saints church with its famous crooked spire. My photograph is taken from the wrong angle and doesn’t do it justice. Dating from 1362 local legends generally attribute the twist in the spire to the Devil; a blacksmith drove a nail into his satanic majesty’s foot causing him to hop with pain across the town and kick out at the spire in anger as he passed. Or alternatively, when the devil roosted on the spire one night and wrapped his tail around the spire to anchor him to his perch the parishioners rang the bells to scare him off. The startled devil flew up without bothering to unwind his tail and the spire twisted as a result.  If the Devil didn’t twist the spire folk lore says it was a local virgin who got married in the church. The church was so surprised to see a virgin bride in Chesterfield that it twisted itself around to have a good luck. It is also said that it will untwist itself when another virgin gets married in the town. Sensible people attribute the twisting of the spire to the warping of the unseasoned wood used in its construction and other building defects such as the lack of internal cross bracing and the heavy used of lead tiles on the south side of the roof. 

I had time to have a quick look around the church yard to see if there were any interesting memorials. There are still headstones standing on the north side of the church, all of them dating from the 19th century as far as I could see. There was nothing particularly eye catching though apparently there is a French officer, a P.O.W. from the Napoleonic Wars, buried there with a headstone in French and English. On the south side of the church yard the headstones have all been cleared and some of them stacked against the boundary walls. The south wall is taken up with a hundred or so large ledger stones; whether they came from the church yard or from inside the church itself I don’t know. They are stacked four or five deep and it is impossible to see any of them clearly except the smallest at the front. Along the western wall is a mixture of ledger and head stones. Hidden behind a larger headstone is a beautiful stylised memento mori dating from the 1730’s; its concealed position makes it very easy to miss and very difficult to photograph. 

Godfrey's burial is recorded in the parish register as taking place on 7 December 1730

Beneath the excellently preserved headstone, until it was relocated against the wall, once ‘lyeth the body’ of Mr Godfrey Mercer ‘who dyed Dec ye 4th 1730’. The parish register records that he was buried on 7th December, the only interment that took place that day.  St Mary’s burial register graphically demonstrates the prevalence of child mortality in the early 18th century – there were seven burials between the 5th and 11th of December and 5 of them were children. Details of Godfrey’s life are spare – he was baptised at Chesterfield in 1696, the son of John Mercer. We don’t know his occupation or where he lived in the town but we do know that he married when he was 26, on 23rd June 1723 to Mary Shentall aged 22. Bride and groom were both from Chesterfield but the marriage took place at St Giles in Matlock.  The couple had no children before Godfrey died aged just 34 in 1730. Mary lived until she was 70 but never remarried; the parish register records her as Mary Widow Mercer when she was buried on 1st April 1771.  

A record of happier days; Godfrey's marriage to Mary took place in June 1723 at St Giles in Matlock

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

"A first class eccentric"; William Vincent Wallace (1812-1865) Kensal Green Cemetery

“He is a first-class eccentric,” said Hector Berlioz, the great French composer and conductor, in Les Soirées de l'orchestre (1852) of his friend, the Irish composer, William Vincent Wallace. “We have spent together, in London, many half-nights over a bowl of punch, he narrating his strange adventures, I listening eagerly to them. He has carried off women, he has fought several duels that turned out badly for his adversaries, and he was a savage yes, a savage, or pretty nearly one, for six months.” Berlioz then spends the rest of his feuilleton recalling how Wallace, with his “his customary phlegm” narrated his half year amongst the natives of New Zealand. Wallace was in Sydney and fell into conversation with the captain of a frigate. As they contentedly puffed on a couple of cheroots the captain invited Wallace to join him on a voyage to New Zealand. Wallace inquired about the purpose of the trip and was told that it was “to chastise the inhabitants of Tcwaewa-Punamu Bay, the most ferocious of New Zealanders, who took into their heads, last year, to loot one of our whaling-ships and eat its crew. Come along with me, the crossing is not a long one, and the expedition will be amusing.” Wallace accepted with alacrity and a few days later was under full sail to South Island with the English Frigate.  The amusement started almost as soon as the frigate was at anchor in Tcwaewa-Punamu Bay. The captain had given orders to tear a few sails, break a couple of yard arms, hide the guns and the company of marines on board and for just ten men to stay on deck and do their best to look lost and aimless. This gave “our frigate the appearance of a poor devil of a ship half disabled by a gale and no longer answering its helm,” Wallace told Berlioz “as soon us the New Zealanders caught sight of us, their customary caution made them remain quiet. But after counting only ten men on the frigate, and believing from our wretched appearance and the uncertainty of our movements that we were shipwrecked mariners asking for help rather than an attacking party, they laid hold of their weapons and made their way towards us from every corner of the shore. Never in my life have I seen so many canoes. They came from land, sea, bushes, rocks, everywhere. And remember that several of these boats contained as many as fifty warriors.” Once they were thoroughly surrounded the captain gave the order to throw open the ports and let the Maori warriors have a few broadsides from the ship’s guns.

Wallace enthusiastically joined in the ensuing slaughter “with my double-barrelled gun, and a dozen grenades handed me by the master-gunner, I, for my part, destroyed the appetite of many New Zealanders, who had perhaps already dug the oven in which they had counted on baking me.” He says that he could not count the number of men that he had killed and enthuses “you cannot conceive the effect of my grenades in particular. They burst between their legs and sent them flying sky high!” Meanwhile “our commander stamped about, shouting through his speaking-trumpet: One more broadside! Give them bar-shot! Shoot that chief with red feathers! Out launch, out cutter, out yawl! Finish the swimmers off with the handspike! Knock them on the head, my lads I God save the Queen!” When the fighting finished “the sea was strewn with corpses, limbs, tomahawks, paddles, and wreckage from the canoes, while here and there the green waters were flecked with big crimson puddles.” Two chiefs are taken prisoner during the battle and an interpreter called to explain to them why they were attacked. “'Oh,' exclaimed the big chief, stamping violently on the deck, and gazing at his companion with savage enthusiasm, ‘Very well, then. The whites are great warriors!' Our procedure evidently filled them with admiration. They judged us from the standpoint of art, like connoisseurs, noble rivals, great artists.” Having taken the days extraordinary events in his stride Wallace is rather put out to discover that the captain plans to sail directly to Tasmania, a journey that will take rather longer than Wallace had reckoned on spending away from Sydney. When the ships surgeon asks to be left in New Zealand Wallace begs leave to join him living with the “cannibal chiefs”. He loses no time in going native and adopting the life style of the people he has just taken so much pleasure in slaughtering and by dint of prowess at the hunt is able to “captivate two charming little native girls, as lively and coquettish as Parisian work-girls, with large, sparkling black eyes, and eyelashes the length of my finger. Their shyness once conquered, they followed me like a couple of llamas, Mere carrying my gunpowder and bag of bullets, MoTanga the game I brought down during our excursions; at night each of them in turn served me as a pillow, when we slept in the open. Such nights, such stars, such a sky! That country is paradise on earth.” Not content with two acquiescent hand maidens to cater to his every whim Wallace fell in love with the chiefs sixteen-year-old daughter. His initial advances are rebuffed but our intrepid traveller soon discovers that the way to a princess’ heart is through a keg of tobacco. The princess, “delighted at possessing the precious keg, which she had persisted in not asking for from pure coquettishness, loosened her hair at last and dragged me palpitating towards the field of phormium” (the New Zealand flax plant). Wallace and his princess soon celebrate their marriage with a wedding feast at which a young female slave is roasted for the main course (Wallace, of course, refuses to partake though the ships surgeon helps himself to a slice of shoulder which makes him violently ill). He then lives in connubial bliss until it is time to return home; “when I announced my departure to her, what tears, what despair, what convulsions of the heart!” (From his bride of course, not from Wallace). On the day he leaves the distraught princess produces a knife and demands a token of her husband’s undying love. Instead of castrating the renegade she bares his chest and then “slashed me twice, making a cross-shaped incision, whence the blood spurted forth in jets. Immediately the poor child flung herself on my chest, which was streaming with blood, laid against it her lips, cheeks, neck, bosom, and hair, and drank my blood, which mingled with her tears; she screamed, she sobbed.” And if that wasn’t enough his “two charming little native girls” are also inconsolable; “Mere and Moi'anga had sprung into the water before the cutter's departure; I found them at the frigate's companion. There was another scene, amid heart-rending shrieks. In vain did I keep my eyes fixed on the Britannic flag; my strength failed me for a moment. I had left Tatea fainting on the beach; at my feet the two other dear creatures, swimming with one hand and waving farewell signs to me with the other, repeated in their wailing voices: 'O Walla, Walla!' (their way of pronouncing my name). What efforts it cost me to climb the ship's ladder! As I mounted each step, it seemed to me that I was fracturing a limb.”

William Vincent Wallace, composer, virtuoso on the piano and violin, and, judging by his stories to Berlioz, incorrigible fantasist, was born in Waterford in 1812. His father was regimental bandmaster with the North Mayo Militia and Wallace was taught to play several instruments growing up including the clarinet, organ, violin and piano. He became the cathedral organist at Thurles in County Tipperary when he was 18. He also taught music at the local Ursuline convent where he fell in love with, and married, one of his pupils. He did travel, emigrating to Australia in 1835 where he separated from his wife in 1838,  just before travelling to New Zealand and engaging in his Ménage à quatre with his three island girls. From New Zealand he sailed across the Pacific and visited South America and the Caribbean before moving onto the United States and then returning to England. He stayed in London for a while (where he met Berlioz) before touring the continent and then moving to New York where he became an American citizen. Seemingly unable to settle anywhere he returned to Europe and died in France in 1865. His operas Maritana (1845) and Lurline (1847) were huge popular and critical successes.  

The Dublin Evening Mail of 25 October 1865 gives an account of his funeral in Kensal Green Cemetery reprinted from The Star.

FUNERAL OF VINCENT WALLACE. The mortal remains of Vincent Wallace, who breathed his last ten days ago at the Chateau de Bagen, in the Pyrenees, were brought to England last week, and were Monday morning laid in the cemetery at Kensal Green. The chief mourners consisted of his three sons (two being by the lady whom he has now left a widow, and one by former wife) and his nephew. The body of the lamented composer was followed on its last journey, from the chapel where part of the burial service was read, to the grave which had been prepared for its reception, by some thirty or forty personal friends of the deceased, all of whom are well known to the general public. The ready, active sympathy with the misfortunes of others which the musical profession invariably evinces prompts them not merely to assist their brethren while living, but to pay them due respect when dead. So around the last resting place of Vincent Wallace were assembled composers who had been his rivals as well as his friends, singers who had interpreted his works, and journalists who had spread abroad their fame. Among those present were Professor Sterndale Bennett, Benedict, Mr Macfarren, Mr Arthur Sullivan, Mr Brinley Richards, Mr Henry Smart, Mr Osborne, Signor Ferrari, Signor Lablache, Mr Henry Leslie, M Lemmens, Mr Wood, Mr Weiss, Mr Hogarth, Mr Campbell Clarke, and many others for whose names we can find no space. Thus surrounded, within view of the giant city whose autumnal dreariness his graceful genius had so often lightened, Vincent Wallace was laid down in the narrow bed in the like of which all must sooner or later rest. When the solemn words, “Earth to earth," had been said to their accustomed ghastly accompaniment, many pressed forward to take their last look at the coffin, the simple inscription on which ran thus: “Vincent Wallace, died October, 1865, in his fiftieth year." The grave is exactly opposite that of Tom Hood, conspicuous by reason of the graceful memorial which, thanks to the enthusiasm of some young admirers of his genius, was raised just thirteen years ago. So after all his troubled, eventful, adventurous life—after travelling on every continent and sailing across every sea—Vincent Wallace comes home at last to rest, mid worthy companionship, in the cemetery that is honoured by so many illustrious names.