Join us on a guided walk at Radnor Street Cemetery this Sunday, June 12. Meet at the Chapel 2pm.
I’m still swotting up on my funerary iconography where every symbol and shape has a meaning. This magnificent memorial has some classic symbols. The IHS represents the name of Jesus Christ and is taken from the Greek spelling of His name and the garland of flowers around the cross represents victory in death.
This is the last resting place of Edward Henry Sammes. It’s interesting that his family should make a point of adding ‘of Swindon’ to the inscription because Edward was not Swindon born. Edward was born in Lambeth in January 1842, the son of William and Sarah Sammes.
The first reference to Edward being in Swindon is in the 1871 census when he is 29 years old and living a 1 Belle Vue Road where he describes himself as a grocer. That same year he married Sarah Anne Spackman from Wootton Bassett and the couple have two children William and Millicent who are both buried here as well.
At the time of the 1881 census Edward described himself as a retired grocer. I don’t know if he had set himself up as a builder by this time, but I would have thought he would have stated this as his occupation.
By 1889 he was a member of the Old Swindon Local Board, so well placed to know plans for development in the town. The family were by then living at Wycliffe House in Devizes Road. In 1892 Edward submitted planning application to build 8 houses on the corner of Kent Road and Maidstone Road.
This area was pretty much one huge building site during the 1890s. The land had originally come on the market in the 1870s but development was slow to take off.
A map of Edward’s project shows an empty site next door on the corner of Kent Road and Ashford Road with another empty site opposite. At the other end of the road rival builder William Chambers had a yard opposite his own development at Ashford Terrace.
The building specifications for Edward’s houses describe three bedrooms, a parlor, sitting room, kitchen, conservatory, scullery, WC, coals and pantry.
Edward died in 1897 aged 55. He left £5,814 18s 6d to his widow Sarah and son William, worth today somewhere in the region of £2 million.
I’m not sure if William ever worked or whether he lived off his inheritance. The last census available to researchers is the 1911. The family are living at 31 Devizes Road where William, then aged 35, and his sister Millicent 27 are both living on private means.