The former fishing port of Fleetwood has a large cemetery which is the oldest and largest cemetery in the Borough of Wyre. It opened in 1841 with the first listed burial taking place in 1845.

The cemetery covers 16.9 acres and contains areas for Church of England, Non-Conformist and Roman Catholic interments, with special areas designated for the interment of cremated remains. More recently, a Baby Section and Garden of Remembrance have been created.

One of the most striking memorials is in memory of a five-year-old boy, Ian Donald Murray, who died August 4, 1935. The grave is topped by the seated figure of a child. A lamb is sat beside him and he is cuddling it. It is possible that the figure is based on a likeness of the deceased child, but the representation looks older than a child of five. What minor catastrophe struck the grave, I do not know, but the feet of the figure are missing.

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This photograph from my visit to Abbey Cemetery in Bath shows the tomb of Lieutenant General George Dick with its distinctive red cross. Dick’s was the third burial to take place in the cemetery which opened in 1844. He lived with his two daughters in Bath and after his death, his son, George sailed home from India to find he had been cut out of the general’s new will, written shortly before his death.

An unsightly spat took place with allegation and counter allegation appearing in the local newspapers. When George accused his sisters of poisoning their father, an exhumation was arranged. Two coroners, solicitors and doctors and a jury attended, as did the general’s butler who had the unpleasant task of identifying the body. The tomb was removed and the lead coffin recovered to the cemetery’s chapel where a post mortem was carried out. There was much surprise at how little decomposition had occurred in the seventeen months since General Dick was buried.

The next day, an inquest heard that there was inflammation in Dick’s digestive tract. Was it caused by arsenic, prussic acid or strychnine? The jury couldn’t decide, returning a verdict of death from inflamed stomach and bowels, but with no evidence to show how. The press quickly lost interest, George returned to Calcutta and his sisters retired to Devonshire. The general’s body was reinterred and remains undisturbed to this day.

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Frederick John Kempster was known as the British Giant and he is buried in Blackburn Cemetery in Lancashire. He caught influenza and developed pneumonia and died in 1918. At the time of his death he was said to be 7ft 11″ tall. Later, the undertakers daughter claimed he was actually 8ft 4″ and that her father had made a coffin nine feet long. The size of the grave is astonishing when you stand in front of it. If you are in the area, you really ought to visit it so you can see for yourselves just how big it is. Amazing! I can remember my parents once telling me about a giant in the 1930s they had seen in the street. He would shake hands with people standing at their upstairs window, but it wasn’t Kempster.

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During yesterday’s visit to the Victorian Locksbrook cemetery in Bath, I came across this grave. I approached through graves to the right of its headstone, and it was only when I turned round that I realised just how remarkably long the grave was! I walked to its end so that I could capture this image for you. Aside from mass graves for disaster victims, have any of you seen a family grave of this length? Please let me know.

By way of historical interest, the headstone records that four people are buried in the plot. George Annersley Phayre [Captain Royal Navy], his widow, a daughter and the quaintly described ‘third’ daughter. Phayre was commander of the paddle sloop Basilisk which was one of a fleet of Royal Navy ships sent to North American waters because of the Trent Affair in 1861.

The Trent Affair has been described as the most serious diplomatic crisis between Britain and the US federal government during the American Civil War.removed It came about when the US Northern navy stopped the British merchant ship, Trent in neutral waters and seized two Confederate emissaries [to London and Paris].

Writing in the online Canadian Encyclopedia, author Robin W Winks records that news of the seizure and violation of British neutrality was greeted by demands for apologies from the US and for its surrender of the diplomats. For a while, was appeared possible between Britain and the North, with Canada likely to be a battleground. The crisis passed when the North returned the Confederate commisions some seven weeks later. No apology was given . . .

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On the evening of December 12, 1940, German bombers blitzed Sheffield in Yorkshire. No. 74 Nether Edge Road took a direct hit. Susan Bielby (84) and her three daughters, Annie (45), Emily (51) and Millicent (54) were killed. Emily and Millicent were infant school headmistresses, while Annie was a costumier. [Sheffield General Cemetery, Yorkshire]
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In the 1901 Census, Gerald Harry Sydenham is recorded as living in his birthplace, Parkstone, Dorset, where he was a Timber Merchant. His wife, Alice, was born in Frodsham, Cheshire and they married in 1896 at Kensington Register Office in London. He died, leaving an estate of £288, while living in Bonner Road, Victoria Park, Middlesex, so how he ended up in Cheshire I do not know. She later married a builder, James Lea Warburton and died in 1935, aged 65, leaving an estate of £6,249 to her husband.

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The striking memorial to the popular entertainer George Formby stands in Warrington Cemetery, Cheshire. His career spanned four decades from the early 1920s to his death in 1961. He was a famous music hall and film star and entertained the troops during the Second World War. George’s funeral brought the whole of Warrington to a standstill, with an estimated 150,000 admirers lining the route! He was buried with his father whose magnificent white marble memorial headstone was unveiled in October 1922., George Formby Senior was also a star of the stage. The memorial is said to be a replica of the Manchester Hippodrome theatre’s proscenium arch.

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