Great and humble all rest together

FROM songwriters to town fathers from shipwrecks to railway disasters…In the second part of our feature on who's buried at Ipswich Cemetery, JAMES MARSTON investigates which characters are recorded in the Old Cemetery.

FROM songwriters to town fathers from shipwrecks to railway disasters…

In the second part of our feature on who's buried at Ipswich Cemetery, JAMES MARSTON investigates which characters are recorded in the Old Cemetery.

THIS place is undoubtedly one of Ipswich's hidden gems.

A haven for wildlife, a peaceful place to rest, a quiet refuge in a busy town, the Old Cemetery is wedged between Belvedere road, the Ipswich-Felixstowe railway line and Tuddenham Avenue.


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The site is graced by a number of tree species including oak, silver birch, beech, horse chestnuts and lime.

Paul Scott, supervisor of grave digging and grounds maintenance, is also something of a history buff.

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He said: “There is a timeless quality about the cemetery. It doesn't change much.”

As we strolled though the early afternoon, the sunlight casting shadows from the gravestones, Paul pointed out some of the fascinating people who are using Ipswich as their last resting place.

He stops at some graves, carved with locomotives, not far from the Belvedere Road entrance.

He said: “These are the victims of an explosion at Westerfield Station in 1900. John Barnard, 66, a fireman and William MacDonald, 34. It was September 25 1900. They were both on the engine at the time. The fireman got blown three wagons back, he was found 40 yards away dying.

“It's a bit of a forgotten event now.”

A short walk away, towards the Tuddenham Avenue side of the cemetery and hidden behind conifer trees are three huge Celtic crosses.

Paul said: “This was a very fashionable area of the cemetery in the late 1800s and where the Cobbold family had their family graves. The grave of John Chevalier Cobbold, the town's MP, is among them.

Paul said: “It was in this area the great and the good of the 19th century were buried. It was originally quite an expensive area to buy a plot. John Chevalier Cobbold was instrumental in bringing the wet dock to the town.”

He added: “The headstones reflect the architecture fashions of the time. Celtic crosses were popular as there was a resurgence of interest in Arthurian mythology and legend.”

A little further along is a name from the 20th century - Clifford Grey. A world-famous lyricist he wrote songs including “If You Were The Only Girl In The World” and “Spread A Little Happiness”.

Under the pseudonym Tippy Grey, he won two gold medals in the Winter Olympics, the first in 1928 at St Moritz in Switzerland, when the USA five-man bob team took first place.

He acquired a second in 1932 when his four-man bob team won at Lake Placid, apparently in atrocious weather conditions.

Paul said: “I think he was from Birmingham originally but he lived most of his life in the USA. He was here on tour when he died. I think he had a burst appendix. I know he died in a hotel in Berners Street.”

Grey's grave had been long forgotten until it was rededicated some years ago.

Paul said: “There had been a campaign for a long time to get his grave recognised. His family came over from America.”

Not far away is the grave of freemason James Richmond who was, according to the inscription, “summoned to the great lodge above on February 2 1874”.

Remarkable for its carved Masonic symbols, including the all seeing eye and set square and compass the headstone is worth seeking out.

A short distance away, close to the old chapel is what is believed to be the oldest tombstone in the cemetery.

Paul said: “It is rather strange and we don't know much about it. It seems to have an Egyptian influence. There is an inscription on it but it is very hard to make out now.”

He said: “Ipswich was an important port and we have a number of graves with references to the sea. On October 8 1884 the schooner Petrel foundered off Flamborough Head on the Yorkshire coast. Here we have a memorial to those who were lost.”

Four names are recorded on the poignant memorial.

Paul said: “I would imagine it was the entire crew. The anchor symbolises the Christian faith as well as the maritime link.”

Ipswich Museum founder John Ellor Taylor is buried in the Old Cemetery.

Paul said: “He believed in education for the masses and he started the natural history collection that is in the museum today.”

Taylor's epitaph says: “He opened the eyes of many to the order, variety and beauty of nature.”

As the tour continues Paul clearly enjoys telling the fascinating history's of some of Ipswich's most notable citizens.

Then there's the grave of artist Frederick Brett Russell. The son of a grocer from St Matthew's Street he originally worked as an architect for John Medland Clark, the designer of the Old Customs House on the Waterfront.

Paul said: “Russell designed the façade of the Crown an Anchor Hotel in the town which is now WH Smith in Westgate Street. As a painter Russell specialised in early scenes of Ipswich. He especially liked watercolour and there are a number of his paintings in Christchurch Mansion.

“He was described as a man of “amiable disposition and polished manners” according to his obituary in the Ipswich Journal. It's sad in a way as he was well known in life but has since slipped into obscurity.”

There are two military cemeteries in Ipswich Old Cemetery, both tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, as well as a number of military graves.

Carved with a helmet and belt, the grave of Jon Garrard of the Suffolk Rifles is pointed out by Paul.

He said: “There are several serving soldiers here. This one died in 1884. He was 34.”

Hidden behind the First World War Field Of Remembrance, as the contours of the land fall away, Paul proceeds to the now full Jewish area of the cemetery.

He points out the grave of Ida Bachmann who was born in Germany in 1843.

He said: “She left her country in 1934 during the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis. She found a home on England and she died here on October 27 1939.

“She must have been 91 when she uprooted and became a refugee and she had five more years of life after that. It's a poignant reminder to what was going on in Europe in the build up to the Second World War.”

Not far away is the Muslim section of the cemetery.

Paul said: “There were three Muslim children buried here and that was all for years, but in the last 15 or so years there have been lots more Muslim burials reflecting the changing make up of Ipswich.”

Walking back in the lower section of the cemetery, Paul stops at an area dedicated to the burial of ashes.

He said: “Sir Alf Ramsey is here. He died in 1999.”

As we head back towards Belvedere Road and the end of the tour, Paul points out the grave of Lieutenant Thomas Trevor Howell who claimed he was a “Plantagenet of the Blood Royal” and a prince of the royal blood of Wales. Paul said: “Whether or not he was I'm not sure.”

Paul points out the Quaker section near the cemetery gates.

He said: “The Quaker stones are all similar. Robert Ransome is buried in this area. He was the founder of Ransomes and another of the town's founding fathers.”

Do you know any more famous people buried in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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