Historian of Brookwood Cemetery
This page posts news and comments about my continuing research into Brookwood Cemetery and related topics.
Lecture for the Dickens Fellowship -
The Reburial of Edith Thompson (8 April)
Lecture for the Hampton WI (13 May)
Cremation Stories at F W Paine (6 June)
Restoration of the Colquhoun Mausoleum (April -
Lecture for the West Middlesex Family History Society -
Open House London (21-
“Days Out” in the Daily Telegraph (30 November)
It was a pleasure to give a lecture on “London’s Necropolis Railway” to a packed meeting of the Dickens Fellowship on the evening of 26th February.
In the programme, barristers Jeremy Dein and Sasha Wass look back at their examination of a tragic case of love, infidelity, and murder -
The hearse en route to the chapel at the City of London Cemetery, 22 November 2018
In 2017 Edith’s cousin Nicki Toay questioned the safety of Edith’s conviction. How much did Edith really know about her husband’s brutal murder at the hands of Freddy? Did her infidelity influence the minds of the 1920s judge and jury?
Now it’s nearly a year on from their investigation, and the barristers catch up with Nicki to find out what’s been happening in her life since the judge delivered his verdict. She brings them the incredible news that one of Edith’s mother’s last wishes has finally been fulfilled, nearly one hundred years after her daughter was hanged.
My comments on the original programme can be read here.
The 2019 Historical Lecture Series at Frederick Paine’s Kingston has just been announced.
It was a pleasure to give my lecture on “The Brookwood Necropolis Railway” to the Hampton WI on the evening of 13 May. There were lots of interesting questions and I left them with a copy poster for the forthcoming historical lectures at Frederick Paine’s (see panel above).
Forming part of the London Festival of Architecture, I booked a place on this evening conversation at F W Paine in Kingston. Cremation Stories is an interdisciplinary conversation exploring the boundaries between life and death, in the built environment. Four speakers (Dr Katie Deverell, Dr Brian Parsons, David Phillips and Dr Julie Rugg) gave brief presentations on cremation reflecting their areas of expertise (social science research, the funeral industry, architecture, and senior researcher respectively).
This led to a general discussion on the themes raised, allowing further exploration of the challenges cities are currently facing with regards to the distance and proximity between the living and the dead. Refreshments were served before and after the presentations, and thanks are due to F W Paine for making their premises available for such an interesting evening.
It has been a real pleasure being involved with this important project to promote the importance of the Shah Jehan Mosque at Woking and the Muslim Cemetery at Brookwood Cemetery.
Today's launch of these trails started at Woking Mosque with speeches from Tharik Hussain, Professor Humayan Ansari (Royal Holloway) and Sir Laurie Magnus (Historic England). Afterwards the first trail (The Woking Trail) was officially launched by Sir Laurie cutting a ribbon outside the Mosque.
We then moved on to Brookwood Cemetery when another ribbon cutting ceremony launched the second trail (The [Brookwood] Muslim Cemetery Walk) along with the blue plaque near the Kibla stone.
Unveiling the blue plaque at the entrance to the Muslim Cemetery: Left to right: Avril Kirby (Cemetery Manager), Sir Laurie Magnus (Historic England) and myself.
The first trail (#1 The Woking Trail) begins at the “Mecca of Europe” -
The second trail (#2 The Muslim Cemetery Walk) starts at the oldest Muslim plot in the country. The Muslim Cemetery is the final resting place of several famous late Victorian converts to Islam including Abdullah Quilliam (Britian’s first Sheikh ul Islam), Lord Headley (co-
The blue plaque in the Muslim Cemetery reads:
”Everyday Muslim Heritage and Archive Initiative: Britain’s First Muslim Cemetery. Originally established as “The Huhammadan Cemetery” in 1884 by the founder of the Shah Jehan Mosque, Dr Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner.” It stands in front of the original Kibla stone, erected to mark the purpose of the plot in 1884.
It was a pleasure to give a lecture on “The History of Brookwood Cemetery” to members of the West Middlesex Family History Society on the evening of 15 August.
There were many interesting questions prompted by my talk and I look forward to a return invitation in due course.
The “Days Out” section in the Daily Telegraph dated 30 November included a small panel about the London Necropolis.
It’s a shame Jack Rear didn’t do any research for this as it contains several inaccuracies which should not have been permitted to go to print.
Don’t journalists do any research nowadays?
During the weekend of 21-
Virtually the entire ground floor of the F W Paine premises was on view, including the museum area, shown above. The interior, which is panelled oak throughout, dates from 1908 and is now listed Grade II.
Restoration work began on the Colquhoun Mausoleum
The structure, which stands in an isolated location towards the far end of St Mark’s Avenue, has been inspected and a schedule of repairs and refurbishment work has been provided by Priory Heritage Ltd. A specialist company, Sally Strachey Historic Conservation, will carry out the work. This will involve repairs and cleaning of the stonework, repairs to the internal decoration, drainage of the underground burial vault, restoration and repairs to the iron boundary fence, and creating a pathway from St Mark’s Avenue.