London – Havering (Borough of) – Upminster – St. Laurence’s Church (Lydia Tunbridge)

I thought this metal grave was intriguing, located at St. Laurence church in Upminster. It commemorates the life of Lydia Tunbridge, who died in 1918 at the age of 70.

At the 1901 census, Lydia lived at Hacton School House in Rainham along with her husband, George, who was an agricultural labourer. They had four children living with them, Ethel who was born in 1885, Herbert who was born in 1888 and was already working as an agricultural labourer at the age of 13, Ernest who was born in 1889 and was still at school and Mabel who was born in 1892. They also had an older sister, Alice, who was no longer living with them, but who appeared in the 1891 census.

At the 1911 census, Lydia lived at Mission House in Hacton, with George still working as an agricultural labourer. Herbert, Ernest and Mabel were all still living with them, with Herbert also still working as an agricultural labourer and Ernest who worked as a horseman on a farm. Also now residing at the property was Winnie Fairchild, their grand-daughter.

Lydia died in 1918 and she still lived at the Mission House at that time. The particularly sad element of this is that she died just a year after finding out that her son Ernest was killed during the First World War. Ernest died on 1 July 1917, at the age of 28, and is buried at the Cologne Southern Cemetery in Germany, which is where bodies were moved to from other parts of the country. Ernest fought in the 7th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment and became a prisoner of war during the conflict, having already been injured in 1916, being discharged from a field hospital on 30 December 1916. He left a wife, RM Griffiths, who lived at 3, Westbury Rd., Walthamstow, London.

I’m not sure why this burial used a metal headstone, but it may have been that a blacksmith could have made it for them. Ernest was working as a horseman on a farm, so, perhaps (and very much as a random guess) this was arranged for the family.