The memorials in our cemetery mark the final resting place of people and serve to connect us with previous generations and their history. Unfortunately, many of the memorials are also neglected, as those who previously looked after them are no longer able to do so for many reasons.
Our team of volunteers have restored some of these neglected memorials to their former glory by restoring fallen over headstones, mending broken gravestones and statues, remarking the borders around graves, cleaning headstones and generally tidying up.
If you are interested in finding out more about joining the Friends of Bedford Cemetery and volunteering, please visit our Volunteering Section
Monuments and memorials are always deserving of respect and care. The pictures below show some of our memorials before and after restoration.
Frances Mary Sim the first Head Mistress of the Kindergarten and the founder of the Teacher Training College, Bedford. Grave Section G2.75 For more information click here
William and Annie Blake who lead the way in photography Grave Section C.1 For more information click here
William and Mary Howard Lovell. Mary was the great granddaughter of John Moore Howard who served as Governor of the County Goal in Bedford (1783-1814) and was dismissed for using prison labour for his own means. Her father was Sir Frederick Howard who in partnership with his brother built Britannia Iron Works, Bedford. Grave Ref F4.62
Fanny Peters Housekeeper to Sir Frederick Howard Grave Section B 1104
John Charles Denton. In the 1870s he built the biggest and best store in Bedford, the Pantechnicon, later Longhurst and Skinner and now the Pilgrims Progress. Grave ref C3.9
Henry Francis. Boot maker of Bedford Grave Section B 1104
Mabel Barltrop ( 1866-1934). Mabel was known to her followers as Octavia, Shiloh or Shiloh-Jerusalem and was founder of the Panacea Society, a secretive religious group based in Bedford, but which was known all over the world. She claimed to be a great prophet, the Daughter of God, have daily messages from God, and to have healing powers. Her neglected grave was restored by the Panacea Museum in 2016. For further information click on video link. Grave Ref. J.434
Emily Goodwin ( 1857-1943) was the second most important person in the Panacea Society, after Mabel Barltrop, and became the leader in 1934. She claimed to be the “Instrument of The Divine Mother” speaking the words of the female aspect of God. As with Mabel Barltrop, her grave doesn’t have her name, just her initials, and was restored in 2016. Grave Ref I.451.
The Stannard family were famed in Bedford as musicians and watercolourists. Henry Stannard (R.B.A) held art classes at his studio on the corner of Harper Street and Dame Alice Street. His eldest daughter Emily (R.A.M) was a pupil of her father. She was a highly talented artist as well as being a Mezzo Soprano. Her sister Ivy Horn was a violinist and artist. She was the proprietor of the Bedford Art Academy at 59 Bromham Road. Grave Ref. F.4126 For more information click here
Baby Eve – A Heart-rending Memorial. Many people over the years would not fail to notice as they walked past Baby Eve’s last resting place. Some of those may have paused for a while to look down on the touching memorial, and some have left flowers. Baby Joan Christine Turing Eve was born in Bedford on May 3rd 1904, and died at Weymouth on August 15th 1905. Joan was the daughter of Sir Herbert Trustram, and Lady Fanny Jean Eve. Grave ref H3.165
Joan’s cousin was Alan Turing, who during WW2 worked for the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park. Alan sadly did not get the chance to know his cousin Joan as he was born eight years later. For more information click here
Daniel O’Connell Jr is buried, together with his wife Ellen, near the main gatehouse of our cemetery. Daniel O’Connell was born in 1816 and died aged 80 in 1897. He was the youngest and last surviving son of Daniel O’Connell Snr known as ‘The Liberator’. Latterly he and his family lived in Clapham Road, Bedford, opposite St. Martin’s church. Grave ref C2 193
Richard Stennett. Bedford Borough Chief Constable (1852 to 1869) who died 24th May 1898 aged 91 years. Prior to being appointed the Borough Chief Constable he was the proprietor of the Cross Keys public house in the High Street Bedford.His wife and son are buried in the adjacent grave. Grave ref G9. 66
In 1838, in the year of Queen Victoria’s Coronation, Thomas Rose set up a drapery store at 51-53 High Street. When he died his eldest son, Edward Paine Rose, ran the business. The store was later known as E. P. Rose & Son, which now houses Debenhams.
Thomas’s large and impressive memorial, in the form of an obelisk, shows the sign of his wealth and status. Edward seems to have had a close relationship with his father as he chose his memorial to stand by the side his father’s obelisk.
Inscribed on the obelisk are Thomas, who died on the 6th January 1863 and his 18-year-old daughter, Susie, who, died on the 9th February 1868. The last burial in the family plot was his wife, Mary; she died at the age of 86 years, on the 3rd March 1907.
Remembered on the obelisk are Thomas and Mary’s two other children. They were Florence Helen Rose, who died at the age of 16 months on the 6th May 1850, and John Holland Rose, who died in April 1854. They died before Foster Hill Road Cemetery opened in 1855, and were buried in Bunyan Cemetery, Mill Street, Bedford. (Section C8 Grave132)
Annie Carter Head Mistress Of The High School Preston Lancashire and Sometime Second Mistress of the Bedford High School.
She Entered Into Rest January 10th 1887 Aged 33 Years
“Blessed Are The Pure In Heart : For They Shall See God” (Grave ref: E.4. 29.)
Walter John Pragnell aged 5 years and 3 months. Died 24th December 1883 and was buried 28th December 1883.Son of Walter and Sarah Ann Pragnell. The ‘Foot Stone’ was unearthed whilst digging the hole to replace the headstone and has been placed behind the headstone as part of the memorial. (Grave ref: G.5. 171)
Elizabeth Lenton Roff died on the 24th November 1870 at the age of 58. She is buried in the same grave as William Roff senior, who died on the 25th November 1897 at the age of 86. (Grave ref D.1. 65).
William Roff JP (son of the above mentioned) the ex-Mayor and High Street shop owner died on the 23rd June 1920 at the age of 78. He is buried in grave D.1. 64 together with his wife Mary who died on the 21st February 1921 at the age of 75.
The first photograph, which was kindly given to us by the family, shows the memorial in its splendid and pristine condition when it was first erected in 1870.
Augustus Hill Chief Fire Officer of Bedford who died 19th March 1912 and Edith May Hill who died 25th January 1941. (Grave ref: C.7. 102.) Also Elizabeth Amelia Hill who died 31st July 1887. (Grave ref: C.7. 112) (See Article)
The Working Party managed to straighten the memorial stone of Mary Ann Keep (Grave ref G5 165)which had been sloping at a 45 degree angle. Mary Ann Keep died on the 18th January 1902 aged 64 years and was buried next to her husband James Keep. (Grave ref G5 155). James Keep died on the 28th November 1896 in his 59th year. The photographs also show the upright and cleaned memorials.
Ralph Theodore Champion, born 22nd May 1880, died 14th March 1881. He was the youngest of eight children of Annie and the Rev. E. Champion, who lived in Dame Alice Street, Bedford.
In 1878, Ralph’s father, the Rev. Champion was the only missionary stationed at the Jabalpur Mission, India. The Jabalpur Mission was originally founded with a view to the evangelization of the Gonds. The Gonds are the tribal community mostly found in the Gond forests of central India. (Grave Ref G9 144)
George Hart Ager and Ada Ager. George Hart Ager was educated at Bedford Modern School. He was apprenticed to the printing trade at the office of The Bedfordshire Times. He married Ada Emma Taylor in 1918 after moving to London to take up a position on a Kingston newspaper. On their return to Bedford George took up the post of reader for the Sidney Press Ltd., Sidney Road, Bedford and Ada became a prominent local preacher in Hassett Street Methodist Circuit. She was also asssociated with various women’s meetings at the churches both as speaker and a worker. Nearly every month for sixteen years she addressed meetings at Howard Church. Ada was also President of the Bedford Women’s Adult School. There were no children of the marriage. (Grave Ref E8 52)
Isaac Fenwick. Isaac Fenwick was born in 1833 at Sheffield, Yorkshire. On 24th November 1856 at the Parish Church, Sheffield, Isaac married Elizabeth Abbott. At the time of his marriage Isaac was a blade forger. In the 1861 Census for Holmfirth, Huddersfield, Isaac is a drill sergeant in the army.
In the 1871 Census for Durham, Isaac is a tobacconist. By 1873 Isaac had moved to Bedford. The Bedfordshire Times and Independent, 12th April 1873, reported that Isaac Fenwick, tobacconist, High Street, Bedford, was charged with being drunk, at Turvey, on the 19th March. The arresting police officer stated that the defendant and two others were riding in a trap, and when they stopped at a public house in Turvey for a few minutes he saw that they were drunk. Mr Fenwick said he had been ill, and after taking several glasses of drink the fresh air overcame him. He said he was not the driver. He was fined 10 shillings with 6 shillings costs. On 19th March 1879 Isaac died at High Street Bedford. His burial took place on 24th March. (Grave ref C7 99)
Mercy and Thomas Powell. Thomas Powell was born in Warwickshire in 1842. At the age of 19 he was living at home with his parents and his elder brother, William. His father was a shoemaker. In 1864 Thomas married Mercy Jolliffe at St. George, Hanover Square, London. Mercy was born in 1844 at Singleton, Sussex. She was the youngest of 3 siblings. Her sister, Emma was born in 1841 and her brother, Noah was born in 1839. Her father by trade was a castrator. In the 1871 Census for Bedford, Mercy and Thomas are living at 50 Pilcroft Street, Bedford, with their 3 children. The 1881 Census showed they went on to have 6 more children. Mercy and Emma are both interred in grave ref F6 58. Thomas is in Grave ref F6 68. The graves are side by side but only one headstone has been provided.
The Daughters of the Holy Ghost were a teaching order of nuns based in a convent at St Brieuc in Brittany. When, in the early 1900s, the French government introduced severe anti-clerical laws intended to prevent Catholic religious orders from teaching, nuns were sent to the UK to establish Catholic schools for girls, in Abergavenny, Bedford and Ingsdon (Devon). In Bedford, the nuns (who first settled in Lansdowne Road) took over (in 1914) the premises of the Crescent House Ladies’ College at 112-114 Bromham Road, which became the Convent of the Holy Ghost School, as well as the Bedford Convent. For further details click here.
Anne Phillip sadly died on the 2nd August 1962 at the age of one year following a long period of ill-health. Anne’s grave, like so many baby graves at that time, was unmarked and in an area that was difficult to identify. Eventually the grave of Anne was identified, and its position verified by Bereavement Services, Norse Road and the family were informed. A temporary wooden cross was erected in order to identify the grave position – A. 326.
The Phillip family visited the grave at Bedford Cemetery in August 2018, travelling from Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire, and were shown the location of the grave by the Friends of the Cemetery. A permanent headstone was erected in October 2019.
Frank Clarke was only 12 years of age when he died following an accident when a hand grenade went off at Woburn Road, Heath, Bedfordshire. 18th September 1942.
He was buried at Bedford Cemetery 22nd September 1942. Grave reference: Section R. 645.
Harriet Ann Grant was the the only daughter of Alexander and Sarah Grant. She died on the 10th March 1869, aged only 11 years. Grave reference H11 114.
Also mentioned on the grave of Harriet Ann is the infant son of Christopher & Harriett Grant – Charles Grant.
Harriett Grant, wife of Christopher Grant and mother of Charles Grant (see above). Grave reference H11 123
Alexander Grant, Grave reference H11.98 and Sarah Grant, Grave reference H11.98. Parents of Harriet Ann and, we believe, Christopher Grant (see above)
Robert Charles Smith was only 12 years old when he drowned whilst bathing in the river. Grave reference H4.10. He was the second son of Robert and Esther Smith of St Cuthbert’s Street, Bedford. The poem on his headstone reads:
“O When The First Wild Throb Is Past
Of Anguish and Despair
To Life the Eye of Faith to Heaven
And Think My Child Is There
This Best Can Dry the Gushing Tears
This Held the Heart Relief
Until The Christian’s Pious Hope
O Becomes A Mother’s Grief”
The Read Family. Cecil Talbot Read, aged 18 years, drowned in the river on the 21st August 1882. Grave reference G5.312. Mentioned on his headstone is his brother, William Wood Dewes Read, who died off Cape Finisterre homeward bound on the 17th May 1882, aged 18 years. His mother and father, Caroline Read who died 15th March 1903 aged 83 years and Constantine Hayward Read who died 12th February 1888, aged 62 years are also buried in the Cemetery. Grave reference G5.122.
Frank and Annie Howe. Frank Howe was tragically killed whilst cycling with his sons and two friends in Cambridge. He died on the 6th April 1912 aged 45 years. Sadly, Mrs Annie Howe was to suffer further tragedies in her life in that her two sons Cyril and Claude were both killed in World War 1. She died 8th June 1940 and is buried in the same grave as her husband. Grave ref B6.2
Sgt William George Gibbs, aged 25 years. He was killed by the IRA during a raid at Mallow Barracks, County Cork, Ireland on the 28th September 2020. He was buried in the Cemetery with full military honours on the 4th October 1920. Grave ref K3.3