Tower Hamlets Cemetery

Today was one of sunshine (not much) and showers (numerous). The morning having been predicted to be the driest, we were both out gardening early. Jackie was mostly planting, in and out of the greenhouse.

I managed considerable progress on weeding the Heligan Path, until a heavy shower drove me inside and I turned to WordPress matters.

After lunch I reached the kitchen door in order to complete my weeding task. As I reached the handle, heavier rain set in. Later I tried again. With the same result. I concluded that someone was having a laugh, and applied myself to scanning a number of the last few of my Magnificent Seven cemeteries series.

The first was misfiled from my Abney Park set of late 2009. Buried with ‘General’ William Booth (d. 1912) are Catherine, his wife (d.1890), Bramwell, their son (d. 1929), and their daughter, Florence (d. 1957). Booth was the founder and first ‘General’ of the Salvation Army.

Here is a link to this Christian church and international charitable organisation reporting a worldwide membership of over 1.7 million, consisting of soldiers, officers and adherents collectively known as Salvationists.

The rest are from my visit to Tower Hamlets Cemetery in March 2009.

Living trees have caused much disturbance to the repose of the dead, such as the toppling of this fallen angel and the breaking of stonework.

The Llewellyn monument is perhaps noteworthy by association.

‘The life of Dr. Rees Ralph Llewellyn (Whitechapel 1850-1921) presents a good example of the fact that not all who lived in Whitechapel were doomed to spend their lives in poverty or gruelling labour. He was born in Whitechapel itself, the eldest son of Welsh medical practitioner Llewellyn Llewellyn, and had the surgery at 152 Whitechapel Road that was also the family home. Rees lived there for much of his life and following his mother’s early death, went on to follow in his father’s footsteps, as did his younger brother Walter. 

Qualified as Matric. U. of London, 1869. Hon. Certif. in Obst., 1873. MRCS (Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, 1874), LRCP (Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians, 1876), by 1888 he had become the medical officer to the East and East Central London districts and he maintained a surgery at 152 Whitechapel Road. 

He was summoned by PC John Thain at approximately 4:00 a.m. on 31 August 1888 to attend  Mary Ann Nichols, whose body had been found in Buck’s Row. He conducted a brief examination, pronounced her  dead, and had the body transported to the Old Montague Street Workhouse Infirmary Mortuary. He was later recalled to the mortuary when more extensive injuries to the abdomen were discovered by Inspector John Spratling. At 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, 1 September, Llewellyn conducted the post-mortem examination.

Dr Llewellyn’s testimony at the Nichols’ inquest (in which he is erroneously identified as Mr Henry Llewellyn) was reported in The Times:

The injuries were from left to right, and might have been done by a left-handed person.  All the injuries had been caused by the same instrument.”

The Times reported later that Dr Llewellyn had been recalled to the resumed inquest on the previous day and testified that  “…since the last inquiry he had been to the mortuary and again examined the deceased.  She had an old scar on the forehead.  No part of the viscera was missing.  He had nothing to add to his previous evidence.”

It appears that Dr. Llewellyn never married and lived most of his life with his siblings, first at the surgery in Whitechapel and leter (sic) in Stamford Hill where he and Walter shared medical practice. 

Stamford Hill, in north London, was then a desirable suburb on the fringes of Hackney with fine huses (sic) and was no doubt a place of choice for those with better quality of life and of course, income. Llewellyn died there in 1921, but was buried at Tower Hamlets Cementery (sic) (Mile End), back in the heart of the district where he had served most of his years.’ (

Mary Ann Nichols was the first discovered victim of Jack the Ripper, London’s notorious 19th century serial killer.

‘Some dozen murders between 1888 and 1892 have been speculatively attributed to Jack the Ripper, but five are considered canonical: Mary Ann Nichols (found August 31), Annie Chapman (found September 8), Elizabeth Stride (found September 30), Catherine Eddowes (found September 30), and Mary Jane Kelly (found November 9). All but one of Jack the Ripper’s victims were killed while soliciting customers on the street. In each instance the victim’s throat was cut, and the body was usually mutilated in a manner indicating that the murderer had at least some knowledge of human anatomy. On one occasion half of a human kidney, which may have been extracted from a murder victim, was mailed to the police. The authorities also received a series of taunting notes from a person calling himself Jack the Ripper and purporting to be the murderer. Strenuous and sometimes curious efforts were made to identify and trap the killer, all to no avail. A great public uproar over the failure to arrest the murderer was raised against the home secretary and the London police commissioner, who resigned soon afterward.’

The above paragraph is an extract from a fuller article on this mystery, its lasting popular interest, and some suspected perpetrators, contained in

After I had done a Bart Simpson, for dinner this evening we enjoyed oven fish and chips, garden peas, pickled onions and gherkins, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank The Second Fleet Limestone Coast Shiraz 2019.

For anyone not familiar with The Simpsons, I must explain that, not having used our super duper ovens to cook items from frozen before, and following the packet instructions to the letter, which the Culinary Queen never does, I had a wee bit of trouble carrying out the task and, like Bart, had to keep asking Marge what to do next. Eventually I was advised to pour the wine and the beer.

While we ate, hard hail hammered on the windows.


  1. Many thanks, Derrick. I was particularly interested in the gravestone of General Booth as William Booth is actually my own name (‘Roland’ being my nom de plume!)

  2. That’s very interesting history, Derrick, thanks for the good reading. I hope your weather gets better tomorrow. ?

        1. Conforming to Local Authority standards – just plain headstones. Those of The Magnificent Seven which still have room seem to be the exceptions

  3. So much history to be found in cemeteries.
    I’m glad dinner got sorted out, Bart–and I hope there’s no hail damage. It’s scary to hear.

  4. Black and white footage suits today’s eerie topic beautifully.
    A fascinating history.
    Let’s hope that the weather soon realises: it is nearly mid summer..!

  5. The black and white photos are quite haunting. There has been so much speculation about the identity of Jack the Ripper. I remember reading Donald Rumbelow’s book about the case years ago.

  6. The photos are as eerie as the story. When I see a movie that is meant to be set elsewhere, but is actually filmed in UK, I can usually tell by the cemeteries and churches for some reason.

  7. Your cemetery finds are fascinating! I’m glad you eventually got your fish and chips; some packet instructions are too complicated for words and super-duper ovens can be just as difficult to operate! Hail! I am so fed up with all the hail we are having. The blossom has been beaten out of the trees and some plants are battered and shredded!

  8. The murky trails of Jack the Ripper and associated incidents combined with cemetery shots forced me to ruminate on human failings. The allusion to Bart Simpson made me laugh.

  9. For the first time, I found it difficult to enjoy reading your dinner menu, Derrick. Jack the Ripper is just not a good appetizer….

  10. Your cemetery photos are always so beautiful and filled with history, life-stories, and emotions.
    One place where I taught Kindergarten the area never saw snow or hail…one rare day it hailed hard and left the grow bright white. The kids had never seen hail before and were so fascinated! So I let them each scoop up a little cup full and we had a science lesson on it! 🙂
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

  11. I found a typo Derrick in the paragraph about Stamford Hill. It’s “with fine huses”. Might I suggest “with fire hoses” ? (I used to be an anarchist when I was younger.)

  12. What weather you’ve been having! I hope the weather gods take pity on you soon and send some sun your way. Wow! Trees can topple angels. Surely there is symbolism in this. I’ll be mulling this one over.

  13. The Booth name seemed familiar when I first spotted it, and the explanation was right there on the gravestone. I was surprised to see their graves in your country. For some reason, I’d assumed the Salvation Army was born in the U.S. I suppose it’s because I grew up with their bell ringers and kettles as a kid at Christmas. Anyway: I’ve read a bit of the history now, and brought myself up to date.

    1. How fascinating, Lavinia – an astute link with my photograph. The anonymity of Jack the Ripper probably fuels his appeal. Thank you very much.

  14. Yes, Bart did brighten the post! I got a real kick out of your “I had a wee bit of trouble carrying out the task and, like Bart, had to keep asking Marge what to do next. Eventually I was advised to pour the wine and the beer.” Bob does a good job with barbecuing on the grill. He is learning to use a new smoker he just got for an early Father’s Day gift. But what he does best is to pour the wine and the beer!

  15. I actually thought it was Bramwell who was the founder. Shows how much I know.
    I used to know a Bramwell, a trumpet player in a band, he was named after Bramwell Booth and although I never asked, I assumed his parents were in the Salvation Army, perhaps part of the band. Funny how we just suppose.

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