The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

Friends of St Peter's, Great Berkhamsted

Bedford family (Harvey, George and Frank)


 
Grave Number 877

Harvey Bedford 1880-1903

George Bedford 1883-1904

Frank Bedford 1891-1918

In Rectory Lane Cemetery which dates from 1842, you won’t find many graves displaying people or human anatomy such as corpses, unlike in the C18th.  There are however, a few representations of clasped hands. This headstone is close to 968, and is almost identical; together they record the sad deaths of five members of the Bedford family – the father, mother and eldest on 968, and three of their children on this one. . 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 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 968 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 right and female on left is a deeply entrenched symbolic representation of male/female roles). Holding hands in this way indicates unity and affection even after death. Clasped hands are also symbolic of a farewell or last good-bye. 

On this 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. On the other headstone, their father Edward (on the right) died a fortnight after their mother, so the latter would appear to be welcoming or greeting her deceased partner. On both headstones, 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 this version, the banners don’t quite meet.


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