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Interesting Burials

William Beckford Esq (1760-1844)

Beckford was an eccentric author and collector of fine art, silver and furniture. He was a wealthy man with a country house, Fonthill, and a house in Lansdown Crescent in Bath. Beckford built an imposing tower on the stretch of land running up from his house in Lansdown, where he wished to be buried. However as this land was unconsecrated he was originally buried in the Abbey cemetery in 1844; in front of the chapel in a large granite sarcophagus placed above ground. He was one of the earliest and arguably the most significant of all burials in the Abbey Cemetery, as it assuaged his contemporaries’ fears of being buried away from a church building paving the way for this particular site to be seen as a fashionable place to be buried. But when Beckford’s daughter built the Lansdown cemetery, his body was reburied there near his tower, still encased in his granite tomb.

Samuel Rogers (1782-1858)

Samuel Rogers originally worked as a sexton and verger at the Abbey. He took advantage of the opportunities offered by the new cemetery to establish a successful masonry business specialising in monumental sculpture. This was based for many years at Canal Bridge in Widcombe. As well as carving the Crimean War Memorial, Samuel and his son made many of the ornate monuments that can still be seen in the cemetery today. His own stone is surprisingly simple in comparison.

Ann Partis (1758-1846)

Ann Partis and her husband are one of a number of examples of families who were separated in death by the building of the new cemetery. Fletcher Partis died in 1820 and was buried in the Abbey, where you can still see his memorial stone. Unusually for those days, he left his large fortune unconditionally to his wife, in the hope that she would establish an almshouse for gentlewomen. In 1825 she paid £68,000 to endow Partis College in Bath. To this day the college continues to provide housing for retired women. When Ann died in 1846 the Abbey was closed to new burials and so Ann was buried in the Abbey cemetery, where she is commemorated by an impressive Greek revival tomb.

John Bythesea (1827-1906)

John Bythesea is the only holder of the Victoria Cross to be buried in the Abbey cemetery. He was a son of the Rector of Freshford near Bath; who was for many years a distinguished officer in the Royal Navy. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for an act of outstanding bravery during the Crimean War. In the summer of 1854 Bythesea led a daring raid on the Island of Wardo in the Baltic, by which he prevented despatches from the Tsar being sent on to the Russian military. He ended his career as a Rear Admiral, in spite of the fact that in 1871 the battleship HMS Clyde which he was commanding ran aground in the Mediterranean. Bythesea was severely reprimanded by a court martial and never commanded a ship again.