Historian of Brookwood Cemetery
Saturday 13 November 1993
The following is an account of the special service held in plot 117 to mark the placing of a permanent memorial to Edith Thompson and others. The service was the result of several months’ work behind the scenes and involved working with Professor René Weis, Patricks of Farnham (who donated virtually the entire cost of the memorial stone) and Mr Ramadan Guney (who agreed to waive all cemetery fees) and other interested parties. Despite the appalling wet weather, about 70 people attended the service. Afterwards, guests adjourned to the Lord Pirbright Hall for refreshments. The service was covered on the early evening news by Carlton TV, and subsequently featured on Woman's Hour (22 December 1994) and Radio 5’s AM Alternatives (2 February 1994).
Mary Lucas (Secretary of the Brookwood Cemetery Society) hands Rene Weis his wreath during the special service to dedicate the memorial to Mrs. Edith Thompson, 13 November 1993. The Rev. Barry Arscott, of St Barnabas, Manor Park, who led the service, is in the background.
SERVICE OF DEDICATION OF THE MEMORIAL TO MRS EDITH THOMPSON AND OTHERS
The service was led by the Rev. Barry Arscott, Vicar of St Barnabas Church, Manor Park.
I am the life
He who believes in me though he die
Yet shall he live
And whoever lives and believes in me
Shall never die.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His compassion never fails
Every morning they are renewed.
We are gathered here this morning particularly to dedicate this stone in memory of Edith Thompson, to mark her resting place. But I guess that there will be other thoughts in our minds at this time as well which will be developed I hope in this service.
We are going to start the service by saying together the opening prayer:
Heavenly Father, in your Son Jesus Christ you have given us a true faith and a sure hope.
Strengthen this faith and hope in us all our days, that we may live as those who believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection to eternal life. through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
And we will say together Psalm 121.
Now I'd like to read you a short reading from a letter which St Paul wrote to the Christian church in Rome, the main thrust of which is that whatever happens to us, nothing can separate us from the love of God.
This is what St Paul wrote:
For I consider that the sufferings we now endure bear no comparison with the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is in store for us.
In everything, as we know, the Spirit co-
Then what can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or hardship? Can persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, or sword?
Throughout it all, overwhelming victory is ours through him who loved us. For I am convinced that there is nothing in death or life, in the realm of spirits or superhuman powers, in the world as it is or the world as it shall be. in the forces of the universe, in heights or depths -
Here ends the reading.
DEDICATION OF THE STONE & THE COMMENDATION
Those who have worked hard to see that Edith’s resting place does not go unmarked are to be congratulated. Edith’s tragic death and the circumstances are well known to all of us, and she will not be forgotten. But we place and dedicate this stone here today first, because it would be what her family would have wanted and because we want to acknowledge and recognise Edith alongside all the departed; no-
But first of all I want to reinforce the Christian view about death: that it is not an end; that we go through death to eternal life; that all the departed remain in the loving hands of God: and if that is your particular belief, then thank God for it and ask him to strengthen your faith and your hope in eternal life. The God that I believe in is a God who is present with us at all times here and forever. He is a God of love and forgiveness who holds us all in his heart and -
I believe that there are other lessons to be learned that need reinforcing. We believe that Edith was unjustly put to death. Her execution was just one of a number that have proved to be unjust. It is a salutary reminder that it is not man's place to play God, and it is incumbent on all of us -
As we remember Edith today, we cannot forget all those other people who were caught up in this tragedy. Edith’s parents and the rest of her family, especially Avis Graydon who kept faith with Edith right up to the end of her life; Percy Thompson and his family; Freddy Bywaters and his mother and family; they all too remain in God’s loving embrace. We pray that they along with Edith may know God’s eternal peace and joy and mercy in the belief that nothing can separate them or us from him and his love.
Now we are going to dedicate the stone and commend Edith into God’s loving hands.
To the Holy Spirit
To the memory of Edith Jessie Thompson
In your mercy we ask you to bless her with your love
And pray that she with all the departed
May know the peace and joy of eternal life
In fellowship with you
We ask this in the name of
Jesus Christ our Lord
Now let us commend our sister Edith to the mercy of God our maker and redeemer.
Prayer Heavenly Father, by your mercy
By your almighty’ power you gave us life
And in your love you have given us new life in Christ Jesus
We entrust Edith and all those buried here
To your merciful keeping
In the faith of Jesus Christ your son our Lord
Who died and rose again to save us
And is now alive and reigns with you
And the Holy Spirit in glory for ever
[Floral tributes were now placed on and around the memorial]
The Lord’s Prayer
Father of all, by whose mercy and grace
Your saints remain in eternal light and peace
We remember with thanksgiving Edith
And all those whom we love but see no longer
And we pray that in them your perfect will may be fulfilled
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
Eternal God and father
Whose love is stronger than death
We rejoice that the dead as well as the living
Are in your love and care
And as we remember with thanksgiving
Those who have gone before us in the way of Christ
We pray that we may be counted worthy
To share with them the life of your kingdom
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
Then followed the singing of The Lord’s my Shepherd, followed by the final prayer and blessing.
You can read another account of this service in the Preface to Criminal Justice: The True Story of Edith Thompson by René Weis.
On 22 November 2018, Edith Thompson was reburied in the grave of her parents in the City of London Cemetery. You can read an account here.
Copyright © 1994 by John M. Clarke. All Rights Reserved