Tag Archives: gravestone

Tombstone Tuesday: Benjamin and Charlotte WREN

1 Dec

I mentioned Benjamin WREN of Framfield, Sussex yesterday, so what better reason to show you a picture of his gravestone, photographed back in May 2009 when I visited Framfield.

There is some writing around the top of the stone, which I can’t make out, but the main part of the inscription is very clear:


Remembrance: Ernest Arthur TROWER (part four)

11 Nov

Ernest Arthur TROWER (small)This handsome looking young man is my 2x great-uncle Ernest Arthur TROWER. He was the son of Ebenezer and Annie TROWER, who was born in Sayers Common, Sussex in 1895. He was baptised in the parish church at Sayers Common on the 13th October 1895. His life was tragically cut short when he was killed in action in France on the 23rd September 1917, aged 22 years old.

To my knowledge there are three memorials that record the name of Ernest Arthur TROWER and the sacrifice he made. Two of these I have not seen in person and one I have visited and photographed several times.

The first and most obvious is the memorial that I have already mentioned at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium. Maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Ernest is listed among the thousands of men with no known grave. It is my goal to visit Tyne Cot in the next couple of years and pay my respects, maybe even next year.

Secondly there is the war memorial inside Sayers Common parish church. I have not yet seen the memorial, but according to the Roll of Honour website it is a wooden plaque inside the church with the names of six men who died in the First World War and seven who died in the Second World War.

Interestingly of the six men who died in the First World War who are commemorated there, I have connections to at least two of them, and probably a third. As well as Ernest there is also William James GASSON another 2x great uncle, and Albert Edward SEYMOUR would probably have been the brother-in-law of my 2x great aunt Edith Ellen TROWER had he still been alive in 1923 when Edith married.

The third memorial is also in Sayers Common, Ernest is remembered on the gravestone of his sister Mabel Annie TROWER, who is buried in Sayers Common churchyard. I have previously featured this photo as a Tombstone Tuesday post.

The gravestone of Mabel Annie TROWER and Ernest Arthur TROWER

The gravestone of Mabel Annie TROWER and Ernest Arthur TROWER

There is of course a fourth place where he is remembered, and that is in my family history. So long as my research survives the memory of Ernest Arthur TROWER and his sacrifice will also survive. Hopefully now that these four posts are out on the internet the life of Ernest will never be forgotten.

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Why I fell in love with Lewes Cemetery

16 Oct

I was down at Lewes, East Sussex again today. Apart from a brief visit to the East Sussex Record Office I also wanted to visit Lewes Cemetery. I knew there had to be relations buried there, and wanted to get a feel for what the place was like and what would be involved in trying to locate them.

I had taken a peek at an aerial view of the cemetery on Google Maps and knew it was big, but I hadn’t quite appreciated how big it was until I actually got there.

It was obvious that I wouldn’t be able to check every gravestone in the time I had, so I just wandered around the cemetery scanning as many headstones as I could trying to pick out any family names. Obviously this wasn’t going to be very successful, but I did come up with a few GEERING gravestones including that of William and Emily GEERING, my 2x great grandparents.

Two GEERING graves at Lewes Cemetery

Two GEERING graves at Lewes Cemetery

There were three things that really stood out for me about Lewes Cemetery, that made me fall in love with the place straight away. Firstly was the position, it is on a south facing slope (they should be growing grapes there) with fantastic views across to the South Downs to the east and west.

View of the South Downs from Lewes Cemetery

View of the South Downs from Lewes Cemetery

Secondly, there was the condition of the cemetery. It was immaculate, all credit to the Lewes District Council and their contractors, there was hardly a blade of grass out of place. I was expecting to find some areas overgrown and abandoned to nature, but no it was all well trimmed and very neat and tidy, so no scrambling through the undergrowth needed.

Thirdly, and this made me smile because it was totally unexpected. They have their own public toilets. In my limited experience of cemeteries I have never come across one with a toilet, admittedly most of my ancestors were buried in small rural cemeteries or churchyards so my experience of large town cemeteries is very limited. It was a shame I didn’t need to use the facilities at the time!

One of the memorials at Lewes Cemetery

One of the memorials at Lewes Cemetery

Tombstone Tuesday: Thomas and Mary LEWRY

15 Sep

It occurred to me this morning as I mentally went over the previous night’s research that I probably had a photo of the gravestone for Thomas and Mary LEWRY, my 4x great grandparents.

On my Bank Holiday walk to Bolney, Sussex I had photographed as many LEWRY gravestones as I could find, along with the WALDERs and GASSONs. Sure enough there was a picture of the double headstone of Thomas and Mary in my collection.

Headstone of Thomas and Mary LEWRY, Bolney, Sussex

Headstone of Thomas and Mary LEWRY, Bolney, Sussex

The inscription on the left reads:


and on the right:

MAY 31ST 1870.

Yet another FAIRS gravestone with an interesting story to tell

27 Jul

This is another FAIRS gravestone from West Grinstead, Sussex. It is for my 5x great uncle Harry FAIRS, son of Thomas and Elizabeth FAIRS.

Gravestone of Harry FAIRS, West Grinstead, Sussex

Gravestone of Harry FAIRS, West Grinstead, Sussex

This kept me occupied for several hours yesterday evening. At this stage of my research into the FAIRS family I wouldn’t normally have spent so much time on a family group who weren’t my direct ancestors, but this one seemed particularly interesting.

Harry FAIRS died on the 16th July 1850 aged 54 and was buried on the 20th July 1850. The condition of the gravestone is quite poor, but I was able to check the inscription (or at least parts of it) against the transcription I already have.

Interestingly the transcription has the name Henry FAIRS but the stone itself has the name Harry FAIRS (and it is one of the clearest parts of the inscription), as does the burial record and the GRO Death Index entry.

However, the most interesting thing is that it is a double headstone but there is only one name on it. I assumed that this meant that Harry had been married but for some reason his wife hadn’t been buried alongside him, the mostly likely explanations being that she had married again or moved away from West Grinstead after his death.

This set me off on a journey through the census years on ancestry.co.uk in search of Harry’s wife.

It was quite a journey, which took me to the neighbouring parishes of Shipley and Ashurst before arriving back in West Grinstead where Harry’s wife Ann died in 1882 aged 84 years. The journey also introduced me to several of Harry and Ann’s children and their spouses and families, with whom Ann was living (she didn’t re-marry).

Ann was buried in West Grinstead on the 16th February 1882, 32 years after her husband. I will probably never know if she was buried alongside her husband, but there appears to be no other gravestone for Ann recorded, so it seems likely she was.

Annoyingly I have not been able to find Ann’s maiden name or a record of their marriage. I would expect it to have been around 1815-20 so it should be on the Sussex Marriage Index, but I can’t find it there or in the transcriptions of the marriage registers for West Grinstead or Shipley, where Ann was born. I am sure it will turn up eventually.

The other thing I learnt whilst chasing Ann through the census was a selection of different spellings of the surname FAIRS. Some were transcription errors (like FARIS and FUIRS) and one was as different variant on the original census return (FAYERS). All useful information for my future research.


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