Cemetery Friends - caring for the future of our cemeteries



A selection of graves with an interesting background. If you have a grave in your cemetery with an interesting historical background of the deceased or the architecture is of merit please do get in touch as we hope to build up an archive of such graves.

A8 Submarine Disaster [1905 off Plymouth Breakwater]
PLYMOUTH Ford Park Cemetery 
Ford Park Cemetery Trust
Friends of Ford Park Cemetery 
A8 Funeral Procession Trstored Graves A8 Submarine Disaster
                                                       graves after restoration 2005
The graves were vandalised and damaged and for the centenary of the disaster Ford Park Cemetery Trust organised with the Plymouth Submariners Association an appeal to raise funds.

Only four sailors survived the disaster. The early submarines were very prone to accidents and to serve on a submarine was a dangerous occupation. HMS A8 was the third submarine lost by the Royal Navy. A1 had been struck by the Castle line ship "Berwick Castle" with all hands lost,  A3 collided with her depot ship and sank immediately and A4 sank at Devonport when a passing ship's wash flooded the ventilator hatches.  A5 was badly damaged by an explosion of petrol in her engine room and A9 sank off Plymouth when rammed by the "Coath". A9 managed to resurface but in 1908 petrol fumes killed four of her crew. A7 sank with all hands in Whitsands Bay near to Plymouth.

On the morning of 5th June 1905, A8 in the company of A7 and the mother ship "HMS Forth" were heading out by Plymouth Breakwater to start an exercise in Whitsands Bay.

The commander Lt A.H.C. Candy with three crew were on the conning tower platform with the conning tower hatch open, a standard practice at the time. Candy realised that the trim was not normal and suddenly the bow dived raising the stern upwards and the ship went into a steep dive. The four on the conning tower were thrown into the sea and the Plymouth trawler "Chanticleer" lowered a rowing boat and at some danger to the crew rescued the four survivors.

Seven days later the submarine was recovered and taken into Devonport Dockyard where the 15 bodies were removed. It was reported that the thick smoke and acid fumes from the battery explosions meant a very quick death for the men trapped inside.

Eleven of the men were buried at Ford Park [one a day after in a private family ceremony], the remainder were buried in their home towns. The funeral was held on the 15th and the procession took 90 minutes to cover the 2 mile trip from the Dockyard Chapel to the cemetery with many thousands lining the route.

In 2005 the graves having been restored were re-dedicated by a RN Chaplain and the congregation followed a piper to the graves, each had a young uniformed sailor by the headstone and a marine bugler played the "Last Post". The congregation included the family of Mr Johns who had helped to recover the survivors from his fishing vessel.

  entry by Jeane Trend-Hill

Another fine image from Jeane Trend-Hill, this is the Lancaster family grave with a fine bronze casting of an angel mourning. The sculpture dates to the 1920's and is the work of Sydney March.

Flaybrick Memorial Gardens, BirkenheadK
Friends of Flaybrick
Roberts Grave at Flaybrick-
This grave has several unique and interesting features and commemorates Isaac and Dorothea Roberts both important figures in the science of astronomy. It was the work of the sculptor Cloiseau Bailey.

It is an early example of a cremated remains memorial and does not have any emblems of Christianity, very unusual in Edwardian times. Its Egyptian symbolism is intended to inform  rather than act as a memorial. The epitaph on the rear is very apt in view of their beliefs and scientific work. It is possibly the only memorial that carries a representation of photographic plates. There are similarities in style to the Le Verrier memorial at Montparnasse in Paris but the memorial is unique even when compared to other astronomical graves or memorials. The memorial was designed by Dorothea who almost certainly would have seen the Verrier Memorial as she had worked at the Paris Observatory.

The memorial has a special significance to Sir Patrick Moore as he is a recipient of the international Klumpke/Roberts Award, still awarded today for outstanding contributions towards the popularisation of astronomy.

In 1999, Professor James Stevens Curl said "This is a very splendid memorial, redolent with symbolism, including a variant of the Ancient Egyptian winged globe, the symbol of power and enlightenment."

Modern understanding of the memorial and its symbolism is only the result of considerable research work carried out by the Friends of Flaybrick. More information on the website.

View the website of the Friends of Flaybrick click here

LONDON, West Norwood
[wife also commemorated on family vault Cowgate Cemetery, Dover]
Friends of West Norwood Cemetery
entry submitted by Jeane Trend-Hill
copyright Jeane Trend-Hill Tite Grave West Norwood
[left family vault at Dover right Tite grave at West Norwood]
A Victorian architect of distinction 1861 to 1934. Responsible for many unique structures in the Marylebone area of London as well as the Burlington Arcade, Christ Church Brixton and Holy Trinity Clapham. It was believed that he was interred in a large vault [centre of photo at the rear] along with his wife and members of her family [Mowll] at Cowgate Cemetery, Dover but further research has proved that he was buried at West Norwood. 
The grave at West Norwood has sustained heavy damage, inscriptions are missing and the grave is a subject of subsidence. There are as far as we are aware no direct descendants.
Pite was  educated at King's College School and in 1877 he entered the office of The Builders' Journal doing mainly literary work and also attended the Royal Architectural School and in 1878 became a partner of the noted architect John Belcher. The Pite family transferred to Ramsgate where Arthur shared an architect's office with his brother William.
 Arthur's commissions included Burlington Arcade Piccadilly, Christ Church Brixton [London], a hospital in Jerusalem. The Institute of Chartered Accountants and West Islington Library. He was also lecturer at the Royal College of Arts, South Kensington.
Jeane Trend-Hill has published a book about Arthur Beresford Pite and proceeds will help to fund a restoration of the grave see Books/Media page on this site.
Entry by Jeane Trend Hill

Minstead Churchyard near Lyndhurst, Hampshire

When Thomas White died age 81 his loving and dutiful wife instructed the stonemason to record her affection. "A faithful husband, a father dear A beloved husband buried here, In love he lived, In love he died, His life we craved but God denied". However this caused much gossip in the village as it seems that he had fathered children outside of his marriage. The stonemason was asked to return and cut out the word "beloved" from the stone.

BEDFORD Foster Hill Road Cemetery
Friends of Bedford Cemetery
Wyatt Grave Enclosure Bedford Cemetery The Wyatt Enclosure [graves 1855 to 1988]. James Wyatt [1816-78] was responsible as Borough Treasurer for purchasing the original site of the cemetery. As editor of the Bedford Times which he founded in 1845 he spent many years campaigning for the development of a cemetery. The family went in for unusual names. One of the earliest burials was to be his eldest son Otho Illesley Wyatt age 10 years. The family were leading figures with distinctive Christian names such as Otho Illesley and Vitvruvius Partridge, they left their mark on Bedford's history.

BEDFORD Foster Hill Road Cemetery 
Friends of Bedford Cemetery
ford's history. 
A survivor of the Battle of Waterloo. Cley fought at Quatre Bras was amongst those defending Hougoumont Farm in 1815. Richard Holmes made a mention of him in his TV documentary. He went on to fight in the Expeditionary Force and was sent to Portugal at the time of the "Miguel Affair". At the time of his retirement he was a Sgt Major in the Bedfordshire Militia. The stone is now badly eroded and the Friends of Bedford Cemetery are considering a restoration project.

TAYLOR Jonas Dearnley 1829 to 1902
HALIFAX Lister Lane Cemetery
Friends of Lister Lane Cemetery
Jonas Dearnley Taylor was a founder member and the first secretary of the Halifax Permanent Benefit Building Society. He was 24 years old when as a young accountant, he attended a small meeting in the upper room of the Old Cock Inn, Halifax and the society was formed.J.D. Taylor grave Lister Lane Cemetery 

He filled the post with energy and conviction for nearly 50 years, continuing a busy working life until a few weeks before his death at the age of 73 years.

In person he was described as a man of minute attention to detail, as straight as an arrow in all his dealings and living above that too common spirit of pushing others of  to the wall.

He had been actively in various other roles both commercial and in association with the Congregational Church but had concentrated the best of his life's work to the building society's growth and development  and had probably done more to encourage thrift than any other single individual in the town. 

His labours have borne fruit in many lives. Through the instrumentality of the Building Society, thousands of working men have been encouraged to save their money and to build or acquire houses. Taking town of Halifax and the district around, it is believed that there are few places that can show such a large proportion of their households occupying their own dwellings. His great Building Society will in truth be his permanent memorial.

For the history of building societies visit

For details of other graves of interest visit the website of the Friends of Lister Lane Cemetery

LONDON, Highgate Cemetery
Friends of Highgate Cemetery
entry submitted by Jeane Trend-Hill
Reposing Angel by Jeane Trend-Hill 
Mary Nichols lies beneath this wonderful reposing angel monument in London's Highgate Cemetery. Mary died in 1909 and was the wife of Arthur Nichols a bank manager. She is buried with her 18 months old grandson. This monument would have cost a large amount even in 1909. Entry by Jeane Trend-Hill photo ref 136

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Our handbook is full of advice and tips    The National Federation of Cemetery Friends        © 2011/14

New and revised edition


The book contains step-by-step guidance on all aspects of setting up and running  a Friends Group (indeed, it would be of value to non-cemetery related groups too) as well as useful case studies.  Also helpful for established groups looking to develop activities or fund raising.

Saving Cemeteries – a Handbook for Cemetery Friends. 112 pp.

ISBN 978-0-9529780-2-2

Price:  £5.00 + £1.20 p&p  Members: £3 + £1.20 p&p

Copies available from the secretary 

or National Federation of Cemetery Friends,  42 Chestnut Grove,

 South Croydon CR2 7LH