The final resting place of William and Evelyn De Morgan

The headstone of Roddam Spencer Stanhope

On a bleak winter’s day in January 1917, William De Morgan’s funeral service was held at Chelsea Old Church. A marble plaque honouring the much loved ceramicist and novelist was later unveiled there by May Morris. However, De Morgan’s final resting place is in fact at Brookwood Cemetery, Woking.

By the mid nineteenth century, London’s cemeteries were becoming overcrowded and when the largest burial ground in the world opened just some 40 minutes outside of London it instantly became a popular choice for funeral plots; not just for practical reasons, but also for the rambling and tranquil beauty which the 500 acre site provided.

Many of the Victorian and Edwardian artistic cognoscenti are buried at Brookwood, as we discovered during a recent Friends’ of the De Morgan Foundation visit to the site. We were lead round by an incredibly knowledgeable guide provided by the Brookwood Cemetery Society who directed us to memorials which were as fascinating for their beautiful craftsmanship as for the people there interned.

The starting point for the visit was a rather forlorn memorial stone carved by Eric Gill and which sadly is now in a very poor and weathered state. Other memorials of note were: journalist William James Stillman (1828 – 1901) and his wife Maria Spartali Stillman (1844-1927). Maria was not only a prolific artist in her own right, but also modelled for Burne-Jones, Rosetti, Spencer Stanhope and Margaret Cameron . Anna Lea Merritt R.A., (1844–1930) and her artist and critic husband, Henry Merrit (1822-1877) and John Singer Sargent R.A.(1856-1925). One of the most poignant and beautiful memorials  we saw belonged to the Salviati family, whose mosaic work can be found on the Albert Memorial and Westminster Cathedral.

       
      

But of course the foremost reason for our visit was to pay our respects to William
(1837-1917) and Evelyn De Morgan’s (1855-1919) grave which can be found in plot 24. Sadly whilst 15 years William’s junior, Evelyn only survived him by two years. The De Morgans’ grave is one of 15 memorials in the cemetery which are designated of historical significance and due to the beautiful headstone which was designed by Evelyn and carved by Sir George Frampton, it is Grade 2 listed.  Whilst there we also discovered that neighboring plots include Evelyn’s brother Rowland Pickering (1861-1931), brother-in-law Charles Stirling (1866-1948) and her servant, companion, model and muse, Jane Mary Hales (1852-1926)

     

Graves from left to right: Rowland Pickering, William and Evelyn De Morgan, Mary Jane Hales, Charles Stirling.

If you’d like to find out more about the Cemetery and the railway line which carried many a funeral party from Waterloo to Brookwood, then do have a look at our earlier blog on the subject.