An Unexpected Trail

Guest posts are always very welcome at the Cemetery Club, and this week, whilst Sheldon is sipping Ale and mooching around somewhere on the Norfolk Broads, this Monday’s post is written by friend of the Cemetery Club and professional Cellist, Daniel Burrowes.

This is my first foray into cemetery blogging, and has come about entirely by accident.

Last week I was on a short holiday for my girlfriend Ellie’s birthday in Bath, when, while driving around the area, we noticed an interesting looking tower. We were in no rush, so we decided to investigate it and pulled over in front of an arched Victorian entrance, which turned out to be the entryway to the Lansdown Cemetery.

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My girlfriend Eleanor outside the main entrance. Classical/Greek design

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The Tower of Landsown Cemetery

The tower, as we soon learned was Beckford’s Tower. Commissioned by William Beckford and completed in 1827, it’s quite an interesting and unusual folly, and upon entering through the archway, our attention was entirely diverted by the interesting Victorian cemetery in which we found ourselves.

We did not have to walk far to find the first notable monument (if only for the name of the deceased, ‘Adeline Hester Duck’), with what appears to be a pink granite monument to several members of the Duck family.

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Tomb of the Ducks

Venturing further in to the graveyard, we came across a very unusual sight. A sarcophagus, also of pink granite, on a grassy island, surrounded by a dry moat. Upon further inspection, this turned out to be the grave of William Beckford himself.

It seems that after his death, the land surrounding the tower was sold to a publican and used as a beer garden (and what a nice place for a pint it must have been), until eventually it was repurchased by Beckford’s daughter, Susan the 10th Duchess of Hamilton, and given over to the Walcot parish for use as a graveyard, thus allowing Beckford to be returned to his desired resting place from a plot in the Bath Abbey cemetery. It was at this point that I sent a couple of pictures to Sheldon. He then replied, saying how this would fit perfectly as an entry on the Cemetery Club, and here we are…

We then walked around a little more, enjoying the view over the valley below, and admiring some of the more interesting monuments, such as the twisted iron cross shown below.

Beckford's monument

Beckford’s monument

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Twisted Iron Cross

Twisted Iron Cross

After walking around for a short time, we decided to leave the cemetery and repair to the Hare and Hounds, where we had a delicious lunch, while reading up on the fascinating William Beckford. His Wikipedia biography is well worth a read. This incredibly wealthy, sometime politician, traveller, writer and art collector, was forced for a time to leave the country due to an extra-marital affair with the Earl of Devon. Whilst abroad he studied music with Mozart for a short period of time, seems a fascinating character, and upon reading a little more about him, his tower and memorial seem entirely in keeping with his character.

Before this blog, I had never written one, however I have read every post on this site, and am always interested to see how many interesting angles Sheldon and Christina are able to put on cemeteries and other ephemera. Whenever I’ve found myself in a cemetery in the past, I’ve always wondered about the people interred there, but these blogs have given me a lot more to think about. I’ve yet to experience the ‘Magnificent Seven’ that Sheldon and Christina speak so favourably about, but after this unexpected sojourn in Bath, I have a feeling I might be spending a little more time amongst the headstones.

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