Skip to main content

Romantic Headstones: Memory is a Golden Chain

In honour of Valentine's Day, this week's blog looks at some of the most romantic stories and headstones in the Deceased Online collections marking the everlasting love of couples reunited after death.

While Valentine's Day is a fun celebration of love and romance for some, for others it can be a harsh reminder of loneliness or the loss of a loved one. Like birthdays, anniversaries and religious festivals, Valentine's Day triggers thoughts and memories of happy times with someone who is no longer here.

An illustration of Sophia Peabody Hawthorne by Stephen Alonzo Schoff, taken from Nathaniel Hawthorne and HIs Wife: A Biography by Julian Hawthorne, p. 39 (Google books) 

When I visit graveyards, however, I am often struck by how much love continues after death. This may be the love of a parent, child, spouse, lover, sibling or friend. In some cases, a spouse's body may be removed from a grave or cemetery and relocated elsewhere in order to join their loved one in death. One romantic example of this is the story of painter and illustrator, Sophia Peabody Hawthorne (1809-1871), whose burial record in London's Kensal Green Cemetery can be found in the Deceased Online database. Sophia's husband, author of The Scarlet Letter among other works, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), died in Plymouth, Massachusetts and was buried in nearby Concord at the "Author's Ridge" in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. The couple had been extremely close, with Sophia providing a strong influence on her husband's work. Four years later, Sophia and her children moved to England. Three years after that, Sophia became ill with typhoid pneumonia. She died on 26 February 1871 and was buried in Kensal Green on the 4th March. Six years later, Sophia and Nathaniel's daughter, Una, died in London at the age of 33 and was buried in the same grave.

Una's sister, Rose Hawthorne, founded a Roman Catholic order of nuns, the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne. They were responsible for the London grave, which fell, damaging its markers. At this stage, the nuns decided to discontinue caring for the grave in Kensal Green, and to remove the bodies to Massachusetts. In 2006, Sophia and her daughter were reunited with Nathaniel when their remains were buried in a neighbouring plot in Sleepy Hollow.

It is not just famous married couples whose relationships and love for each other can be found in cemeteries. There are also many lesser-known lovers whose feelings are clearly inscribed on their headstones. This book-shaped memorial (above and below) to A. Charles Eberhardt and his wife, Elsie Maud, lies in Highgate Cemetery. As the inscription reveals, Charles Eberhardt died on the 15th May 1956. Elsie Maud lived on without him until 22nd January 1970 when they were reunited in the grave and the second page of the headstone "book" was completed. Elsie Maud's strong love for her husband can be felt on reading the words, "After 50 years together never forgotten." This memorial ensures that their love continues to be remembered today. 

Other interesting examples from Highgate Cemetery of the strength of married love include the following headstone for James Oliver, who died in 1913, and his wife, Anna, who joined him in 1921. The sole word at the base reads simply, 


The Highgate Cemetery tombstone pictured below was erected in loving memory of Ethel Phillips by her husband, Joseph Henry Phillips. Ethel was 81 when she died on 21st October 1969 and Joseph Henry joined her four years later when he was 84. Joseph declared his eternal love for Ethel with the following words inscribed as follows:


After Joseph was buried alongside his wife, the headstone was inscribed, 


Please share your stories of loved ones in your families who have been reunited in death. Or have you spotted a particularly romantic headstone? We are interested in hearing about any romantic couple, married or not. Write your comments in the box below or get in touch on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

New York Times 


Popular posts from this blog

London's Spa Fields

Deceased Online has just uploaded around 114,000 burial records from Spa Fields in the modern London borough of Islington Spa Fields today, with the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer in the background Spa Fields Burial Ground became notorious in the 19th century for its overcrowded and insanitary conditions. Located in the parish of St James, Clerkenwell, the grave yard was not far from the ever-increasing City of London. Spa Fields was known also as Clerkenwell Fields and Ducking-pond Fields in the late 18th century, hinting at a dark side to what was then a summer evening resort for north Londoners. What would become a cemetery was a ducking pond in the rural grounds of a Spa Fields public house. It was here in 1683 that six children were drowned while playing on the ice. In his History of Clerkenwell (1865) William J. Pinks wrote that visitors, "came hither to witness the rude sports that were in vogue a century ago, such as duck-hunting, prize-fighting, bull-baiting

Wakefield Collection: Cremation Records now available on Deceased Online

Records for both crematoria in Wakefield, Yorkshire have been added to the Deceased Online database Above: Pontefract Crematorium The two sets of crematoria records have been added to Deceased Online 's Wakefield Collection .  Wakefield district contains nineteen cemeteries and two crematoria. Many of the records go back to the mid and late 19th century when the cemeteries opened, and range across a wide geographical area. The full list of  Wakefield  cemeteries live on Deceased Online,  with opening dates in brackets,   is as follows: 1.  Altofts Cemetery  – Church Road, Altofts, Normanton  (1878)   2.  Alverthorpe Cemetery  – St Paul’s Drive, Alverthorpe, Wakefield  (registers from 1955) 3. Castleford Cemetery  – Headfield Road, Castleford  (1857) 4.  Crigglestone Cemetery  – Standbridge Lane, Crigglestone, Wakefield  (1882) 5. Featherstone Cemetery  – Cutsyke Road, North Featherstone  (1874) 6. Ferrybridge Cemetery  – Pontefract Road, Ferrybridge, P

Churck (Rock) Cemetery, Nottingham

Coming soon to the Deceased Online database: two historic cemeteries from Nottingham City Council to add to the Nottingham Collection . This week, I explore the history of the renowned Church Cemetery (also known as the Rock Cemetery) . At first glance, the modern visitor to Nottingham's Church Cemetery may think they have wandered into Kensal Green , or another of London's Magnificent Seven cemeteries. The 13 acre site abounds with the kind of gothic stone monuments and large sarcophogi with which the mid-Victorians liked to remember their dead. Yet look harder and you will find something unique to Nottingham - sandstone caves. Since the middle ages, the area around Nottingham was quarried for its sandstone, now known by the name of a nearby village as "Bulwell sandstone". From 1851, after the cemetery was laid out on the former sandpits, local people grew to know it simply as "The Rock".  Church Cemetery Otherwise known as the Rock Cemetery on a