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In search of Emma Cryer's grave at Nunhead Cemetery
This page reports on our three attempts to find the grave of Neil's great grandmother in Nunhead Cemetery, now a nature reserve.
We had painstakingly researched Emma's burial, and had been provided with a map of the grave's location by the administration in Southwark. We were told that there was a memorial above the grave and were anxious to read it.
The map prepared us for the grave being situated in the part of the cemetery which is now designated a nature reserve. So we arrived with thick gloves and secateurs, to do some cutting back. However we were completely unprepared for the extent that the area was overgrown. The photo, taken through a small 'window' between brambles, stinging nettles and self-seeded saplings, shows Neil's attempts to hack through to reach the grave. Significant progress into the thicket seemed totally unrealistic and we gave up.
When our granddaughters found out about our experiences at Nunhead, they too were eager to have a go. We waited until November so that the main undergrowth would have died down and we turned up again at the cemetery, this time fully prepared for orienteering - and with marker flags. We felt that we were making good progress, but then the heavens opened - and once more we had to give up.
Our final visit was in March 2005, a last ditch attempt before the carefully cut pathway into the thicket would have had a chance to grow over again with the approach of Spring. This time we were successful - through a great deal of dedication and just as much good luck. The gravestone was one of the few still standing and the brambles had not quite hidden it. The inscription was almost illegible, but we took photographs which we were later able to computer enhance.
Additional information from the unpublished diaries of John Daws
At around the same time that Emma died, their daughter's father-in-law, John Daws, bought a plot for his own family which he sketched in his diaries. Comparison suggests that the inscription around the top of Emma's grave once read:
It is sad that the grave that Alexander bought for his family was to hold only his wife. He himself was buried in St Lawrence Cemetery, Ramsgate.