Bedford Family plot (Edward Harvey, Sarah Jane Bedford & family) | Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Bedford Family plot (Edward Harvey, Sarah Jane Bedford & family)


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Memorial details

Family name Bedford
Burial date Not known
Burial capacity 3 (Full used)
Burial depth Not known
From burial books?
Burial visible (2019)?
Burial visible (1991)?   

The history of this family is devastatingly sad – this grave needs to be read in relation to Grave No 877. Between 1901 and 1903 both parents and 4 of their 6 children died.

Edward Harvey Bedford married Sarah Munn at the Parish Church of Holy Trinity, in Greys Inn Road in 1878. They came to Berkhamsted around 1881.

They had six children:

  • Edward Harvey, born in Little Gaddesden 1880
  • George (1883)
  • Albert (1885)
  • Florence (1887
  • Frank (1890)
  • Fred (18950

Of the six children, four are buried in the Cemetery (see also 877), and only one – their only daughter – survived beyond the age of 30.

Florence married Albert Harrowell, a bricklayer in 1909 and extraordinarily lived to be 88. But sadly, death haunted even this partnership as Albert died in the First World War on 31st July 1917 at the age of 31, and is buried at Ypres (leper), West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Frederick Bedford, the youngest boy, in 1911 was living aged 16 and employed in mineral water manufacture, with Florence at her home, 68 Shrublands Avenue along with his elder brother Frank, a coachman (Frank would survive another seven years). Frederick died aged 30 in 1925.

This particular headstone is situated close to 877, and is almost identical; together they record the sad deaths of five members of the Bedford family – the father Harvey and mother Sarah Jane and one of their sons on this one, and another three of their children on another..  You won’t find many graves in the Cemetery displaying people or human anatomy such as corpses, unlike in the C18th.  There are however, a few representations of clasped hands. The Bucks Herald of 14th May 1904 reported that ‘within a year or two have occurred, it is believed of hereditary consumption, 5 deaths in one family – that of the late Mr Harvey Bedford, a well-known jobmaster etc. First a daughter[24] died, and subsequently the mother, father and two sons. The funeral of the last, George Bedford, age 21, took place on Saturday at the Cemetery, the Rector, Rev H.C Curtis officiating.  A large gathering of sympathizing spectators assembled at the graveside, and among the followers were Mr. Bedford of Uxbridge, and Mr. H. Lee, the executors. A number of choice wreaths were laid on the bier.’

Both this and the gravestone at 877 illustrate the right hand in a grasp with fingers overlapping the other hand while the left hand is open. Look at the cuffs to distinguish between the man and woman’s hand, the latter having a frilly cuff. (Placing the male on the right and female onthe left is a deeply entrenched symbolic representation of male/female roles). Holding hands in this way indicates the couple’s unity and affection even after death. Clasped hands are also symbolic of a farewell or last good-bye.  In this case, Edward Harvey (on the right) died a fortnight after his wife, so the latter would appear to be welcoming or greeting her deceased partner.

On the other headstone, it might be the sister who died first who appears to be welcoming ‘our dear brother Harvey BEDFORD, d. 31st December 1903, aged 23, his brother George, who died 1st May 1904, aged 21 and finally Frank, a third brother who died 10th March 1918 aged 27. In both cases, the male hand’s little finger is pointing downwards, perhaps signifying they are the last to go.

The stones are nearly the same, but not quite.  In the children’s version, the banners don’t quite meet. One further thing to note is that Harvey Bedford was a Freemason – the handshake is clearly a key component of the Freemason’s greeting.


Condition: good


In Memoriam

If you have a family or other connection with anyone buried in this plot, you are welcome to post your memories or photographs here.

Further reading