Heritage - 46: Grounds Fit for Heroes, a Walk Through Manor Park Cemetery in London E12
"... Land fit for heroes..."
The site sits astride a centre road that divides two East London districts within the London borough of Newham,
Manor Park, E12 and Forest Gate E7. The main entrance is from Sebert Road, E7, a subsidiary entrance only open for access to Co-operative Society undertakers in Whitta road to the east.
The cemetery was founded on traditional Victorian family values by the same family who own the site now since its foundation midway through Queen Victoria's long reign. A Mr William Nesbitt was the first interment on 25th March, 1875, his grave still to be seen on the right of Remembrance Road (see map).
Graves and memorials of historical value can be seen to the south of Remembrance Road, one being that of the boy sailor John 'Jack' Travers Cornwell who died on 2nd June, 1916 during the Battle of Jutland. The honour of being the youngest ever recipient of the Victoria Cross was awarded to him for his steadfastness in refusing to leave his post during the long, harrowing naval battle between Admiral Jellicoe's North Sea fleet and the German Kriegsmarine (Navy) off the west coast of the peninsula of Jutland. Denmark at the time was a neutral kingdom.
Through the grand, stone posted entrance gates from Sebert Road, E7...
The second of Jack the Ripper's victims was Annie Chapman, buried here in September, 1888
Annie would have plied her trade in the close-built streets north behind Whitechapel High Street. Her clients might have been anyone she met in the grimy pubs visited by merchant seamen who'd crossed town from the docks near the Pool of London near Tower Bridge or downriver past St Catherine's Dock towards Limehouse. They might equally have been toffs who visited the gin palaces further west and came downtown to find cheap thrills. Her last client was the Ripper, whoever he might have been. Some say he was royal, some that he was a surgeon - there was a curious precision in the way she was dismembered - or could just as easily have been a freemason, or both. The number of feature films (movies) made about him and his victims, or part TV series, multiplies yearly and the theories with them. He was never caught, unlike Annie, and the mystery goes on, thickening like London's erstwhile fog.
A royal connection to a large memorial was Mary Orchard, well-loved nanny to the children of Princess Alice, herself one of Queen Victoria's large brood.
A further mark of distinction, as mentioned in the first group of pictures is the gallant young ten-year-old John Clinton who died trying to save a young friend from drowning. His stone is set across the narrow road end opposite the florist's stall.
There are countless grand memorials, and many more very modest ones from family mausoleums to small reminders of those who chose to be cremated, their legacy being roses, green bushes and trees. I'll introduce you to them here...
Here are some of the grander edifices, testament to the wealthier West Essex and East London families
A sad tale of loss that only needs this picture to tell...
... And some of the less grand although tasteful, some even downright economic memorials strewn around, away from the main 'thoroughfares' of the cemetery...
Vandals have bypassed the high fences and wrought random damage on graves.
Most of the damaged graves are old, from before security was stepped up. The families are dispersed, or lack the cash to have repairs done. Some are possibly not in a position to do anything because they're in care. After a time graves are marked for re-use, when relatives have passed on, their descendants might not even know there are untended graves here that belong to their families. Some might be past caring.
In the east there is a way out to Whitta Road, London E12, although for much of the time it's pedestrians only...
© 2017 Alan R Lancaster