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Headstones

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Headstones

Postby Jenaheldd » Sun Aug 09, 2015 1:18 pm

Is there ever a reason for a headstone (or 2 in this case) to be completely removed?

Went to the cemetary today to try and find the graves of my great granddad and my uncle. We had a map so knew exactly where the graves were but there was absolutely nothing there apart from the markers with the plot numbers on. Both graves were next to one another but there was no visible signs that there had been graves there - no sunken or uneaven ground, no fallen stones - nothing. Where other graves in the surrounding area had fallen into disrepair and had sunk, you could still clearly see the outlines of them and where stones had fallen, they were either slightly buried under the soil, or laying on top, but there was nothing on my two.

My gt granddad was buried in 1922 and my gt gt grandmother (actually his mother in law, which is a bit weird!) was buried in the same grave in 1937. My uncle was only 6 weeks old when he died and he was buried in 1926, so neither grave is old, old - if you know what I mean. (My 2x gt grandparents are in the same cemetary and they were buried in 1905 and 1910 and their headstone is still perfect)

We cleaned up the grave markers and laid some flowers, but I found it quite upsetting there was nothing there. I am going to email the cemetary to see if they have any info in their records, but just wondered if anyone had any ideas why the plots would seem 'empty'.
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Re: Headstones

Postby phsvm » Sun Aug 09, 2015 3:36 pm

On reading this my first thought was 'were there ever headstones?'

I don't mean to be rude so please don't be offended but errecting stones, edging etc is not cheap and never was so could it be that the family never actually put up headstones? The 1920s were not exactly times of great wealth and it may be that the family simply couldn't afford the expense when it was stones or food/rent etc.

Slightly different I know but remember Bruce Forsyth's episode of WDYTYA when he went to visit his ancestor's grave and was moved to tears to find there was nothing to commemorate the individual.
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Re: Headstones

Postby ermin79 » Sun Aug 09, 2015 3:36 pm

There are a couple of possibilities:

1/ It could be that the graves were never marked with a stone in the first place. Even if the plot was purchased (ie it was a private and not a common grave) there may not have been a memorial put on it. As well as all the costs for the actual funeral and burial, in several cases in England I have come across, a fee has to be paid to the churchyard/ cemetery to put a stone on, plus the cost of the actual memorial. (I do not know if this applies in all places ). There may just not have been the money available to the surviving relatives once the funeral and burial had been paid for, or there could have been disagreement between family members on wording/ cost/ type of memorial which was not resolved. Both of these have occurred in families i have researched.

2/ The stones may have been sold at a later date. I recently visited my great aunt's grave in Falmouth, the sexton there told me that in graves from her era (1920s) he frequently found that stones had been sold by the families during WW2 to raise money and in some cases were not replaced when peace came again.

My family were not monied and in more cases than not I have found burials but no headstones on the graves so in my experience is not an unknown situation, right into the 1960s and 70s.

Sent from my LG-D213 using WDYTYA Forum mobile app
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Re: Headstones

Postby phsvm » Sun Aug 09, 2015 3:39 pm

Don't be upset that there weren't any head stones. The fact is you went to find the graves and pay your respects. That's more than a lot of people would do.
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Re: Headstones

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Aug 09, 2015 4:45 pm

Making very sweeping statements from nothing more than gut feeling - I would say that it's the 1950s before the chances are more than 50/50 that a working class grave will have a headstone.

Obviously there are lots of exceptions to that over-generalisation - engine drivers are more likely to have money in their family than ag-labs, e.g. (Though that depends on whether the "ag lab" is actually a smallholder going under a general name).

But what's also surprised me is the number of 20th century burials that are in communal graves - don't misunderstand the concept - these aren't big pits, rather they are normal graves in a council cemetery where the grave is owned by the council and over a few years, it's repeatedly reused to the normal depth / number of interments for burials of people whose families couldn't afford their own graves. (That doesn't seem to be the case here).
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Re: Headstones

Postby ksouthall » Sun Aug 09, 2015 5:27 pm

Was your great-grandmother still alive when your great-grandfather died? If so, apart from the cost of the gravestone, it may be that she didn't want one put up. After all, it would probably have had a gap where her name would eventually be inscribed. Who wants to be reminded of their future death whenever they go to visit a grave?

This may sound silly but I know this is why my dad still has no gravestone after nearly 32 years.
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Headstones

Postby brunes08 » Sun Aug 09, 2015 5:50 pm

I have traced most of the burials for some of my family in the large North London cemeteries for the first half of the 20th century. Everyone has been buried in communal graves, even my mother's twin brothers. There are no headstones only a plot number. It was not always the case that headstones were purchased to commemorate family members. Not everyone could afford to do so and many didn't feel the need to or want to.
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Re: Headstones

Postby Jenaheldd » Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:11 pm

No offence taken & I did think the same thing myself, but I'd lay money on there once being headstones in place. My granddads cousin was an undertaker & I know the family firm handled the baby's burial in 1926 as I have all the invoices & receipts, so it's a fair bet my gt granddads funeral was the same.

All the family members who were buried by the family firm have a nice headstone & my granddad ran his own successful removals business, so I don't think money would have been an issue.
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Re: Headstones

Postby Jenaheldd » Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:16 pm

ksouthall wrote:Was your great-grandmother still alive when your great-grandfather died? If so, apart from the cost of the gravestone, it may be that she didn't want one put up. After all, it would probably have had a gap where her name would eventually be inscribed. Who wants to be reminded of their future death whenever they go to visit a grave?

This may sound silly but I know this is why my dad still has no gravestone after nearly 32 years.


Yes my gt grandmother was still alive. She died in 1962 & was actually cremated
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Re: Headstones

Postby Jenaheldd » Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:23 pm

brunes08 wrote:I have traced most of the burials for some of my family in the large North London cemeteries for the first half of the 20th century. Everyone has been buried in communal graves, even my mother's twin brothers. There are no headstones only a plot number. It was not always the case that headstones were purchased to commemorate family members. Not everyone could afford to do so and many didn't feel the need to or want to.


I know the baby's grave was private as I also have the Grant of Right of Burial. The burial receipt also
includes a fee for excavation for a brick grave and an extra fee for what looks like a Grant of Plotting - no idea what this is.

We've probably been to the same cemeteries - my family are at Islington cemetary
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