TG2408 : Rosary cemetery, Norwich - the Cooper mausoleum

taken 9 years ago, near to Norwich, Norfolk, Great Britain

Rosary cemetery, Norwich - the Cooper mausoleum
Rosary cemetery, Norwich - the Cooper mausoleum
Emanuel Cooper > LinkExternal link was an obstetrician but first and foremost he was an eye specialist, as his death notice informs: 'We regret having to report that the lengthened career of this successful surgeon terminated rather suddenly on Saturday evening at a few minutes to ten o'clock. He made the 'eye' his special study and was considered an authority on its treatment. He also took a great interest in the Norwich Blind Institution and devoted much of his time to it. He was the oldest practitioner in Norwich, and died at an advanced age. He will be buried on Tuesday at the Rosary, where under his direction, a mausoleum has been for some years erected'.

Dr Cooper lived in a house at Tombland, adjacent to the Erpingham Gate. The house (long since demolished) is described as having had columns at the front entrance. Born in 1803 in Birkby, a suburb of Huddersfield in Yorkshire, and baptised in St Peter's church, he was awarded his LSA (Licentiate Society of Apothecaries, London) in 1828. By the early 1830s, he had set up a practice in Norwich. White's 1836 directory lists his occupation as surgeon and his address as Red Well Street (now Redwell Street). By 1839 he had purchased and moved into his Tombland home (Piggot's 1839 directory). In 1862 he was appointed as Honorary Assistant to the 1st Norfolk Mounted Rifle Volunteer Corps.

Together with his young mistress, Annie Julia Pearson (born 1841 in Wreningham, South Norfolk), who lived at 36 Victoria Street, another house owned by Dr Cooper, he had a son, Charles Arthur (1862 - April 1904), and a daughter named Ada Nemesis (1864-1956). Dr Cooper later married his mistress (who together with the two children was still living at Victoria Street in 1871, as the census reveals) and formally adopted both children as his own, and in a will dating from August 1866, when his daughter was only two years old, bequeathed her a fortune. RH Mottram, whose father James after the passing of Dr Cooper managed the financial affairs of the doctor's widow and children, whose guardian he also was) in his biography of John and Ada Galsworthy titled "For Some We Loved" describes Mrs Cooper as 'a very stately figure, full-bosomed and full-skirted, a fine woman ... of yeoman stock'. About Dr Cooper he wrote the following: 'Dr Emanuel Cooper was, even in remote, isolated, provincial Norwich, full of unusual people, a 'character' only redeemed from being an oddity by a very high professional reputation ... Of Yorkshire extraction and mildly Quaker persuasion he had, by the time of Ada's birth, the reputation of being the foremost accoucher (obstetrician, gynecologist) in the Norwich district ... The best known fact of his private life was that he employed his leisure in planning and seeing built a handsome, and I think stylistically correct Mausoleum, midget in dimension but in the classic taste ... Here, on Sunday afternoons, he used to sit, smoking a clay pipe and (possibly) reflecting on our future state'.

A letter written to Helen Flood by a relative in June 1933 (NRO MC 630/29 784X2) offers a few more glimpses of the Coopers: "When a boy, P often saw Dr Cooper walking across Tombland with his wife. May I say it without any offence, a Darby & Joan* - he with his black coat and white hair, and her with a crinoline dress. I do not remember her wearing any other. There was a personalus about them which impressed your memory and it would be well if the present day young folks would follow there [sic] example."

(*Darby & Joan is a proverbial phrase for a married couple living a placid, harmonious life together and are seldom seen apart.)

Dr Cooper's mausoleum is the only such structure in the Rosary. The only remains it contains are those of Dr Cooper > LinkExternal link. A vault (K 1591) situated below the mausoleum contains the remains of Annie Julia Pearson Cooper, Dr Cooper's wife, who died in 1913 in Newport, Essex, and of Charles Arthur Pearson Cooper, their son, who died in April 1904 in Kensington, London.

The railings surrounding the mausoleum (and perhaps also the ironwork) were made by J Barnes > LinkExternal link. The foundry was based at Church Street, St Miles, and known at various times as the St Miles Foundry, as Barnes Ironworks, Barnes and Pye (a partnership between Jacob Pye and John Youngs), and as Barnes & Pye Ltd (from 1962-2006).

Ada Nemesis Pearson Cooper was married to the writer John Galsworthy, whose novel 'The Forsyte Saga' - a story about the vicissitudes of the leading members of a large commercial upper middle class English family similar to his own - is believed by his biographers and people who knew him to have been based on his own life.
Rosary Road Cemetery, Norwich
The main entrance to this Grade II* listed cemetery is on Rosary Road > LinkExternal link. A gate provides access for pedestrians only from Telegraph Lane East > LinkExternal link. The Rosary was the first non-denominational cemetery in the UK and also the earliest garden cemetery in England. It was established in 1819 by Thomas Drummond, a nonconformist minister, on land formerly in use as a market garden. Claims according to which the Rosary is predated by the no longer existing Dissenters' cemetery in Rusholme Road, Manchester, are incorrect as indeed the records confirm that the latter was opened in 1821, two years after the Rosary, although the first burial in the Rosary did indeed take place in 1821. On 7 April 1824, the Norfolk Chronicle reports that it was agreed that the Rosary burial-ground having been duly entered at the office of the Bishop of the Diocese, and therein designated a general burial-ground for the use of persons of all sects and denominations, shall be invested in trustees on behalf of those who may become the holders of shares, to be limited to 500. The area of land comprising the Rosary - situated at the western end of the Thorpe Ridge and falling gently from north to east and south to west, with a more dramatic, terraced cross slope in the southern section descending from the high ground in the south-east towards the chapel - had formerly been in use as a market garden, and presents a broad green open space between the housing areas to the south and the playing fields of the Telegraph Lane schools to the north (G Goreham, 'Thorpe Hamlet', 1972). The local historian Geoffrey Goreham in 'Norwich Heritage' (1977) wrote "In Rosary Cemetery stone monuments straggle up the slope amongst forest trees and waning sunlight casts long shadows of urns, obelisks and crosses on the maze of winding footpaths", and this is still the case today.

The cemetery chapel > LinkExternal link was constructed in 1879 and is said to be the finest work of architect Edward Boardman > LinkExternal link.

Tragically, the first interment at the Rosary was Drummond's wife Ann who died in childbirth aged 41 > LinkExternal link. The cemetery has a number of literary links. The novelist Ralph Hale Mottram, for instance, is buried here in the family plot > LinkExternal link. He was Lord Mayor of Norwich and also the last chairman of the trustees of the cemetery before it was entrusted to Norwich Corporation in 1956. A number of Norwich School painters > LinkExternal link are also buried in the Rosary, as are a number of railway employees such as the train driver John Prior and the fireman James Light, both killed in the disastrous 1874 Thorpe rail accident > LinkExternal link. A great number of interesting gravestones and memorials, such as the cast iron monument of Jeremiah Cozens > LinkExternal link and made by Thomas Dixon's foundry in Norwich, can be found on the 13 acres (53,000 square metres) of the cemetery. The only mausoleum in the cemetery is that of the eye surgeon Emanuel Cooper > LinkExternal link.

Norwich Heritage have a record according to which the large crowds of people visiting the Rosary in the summer of 1880 led to the employment of a policeman.

An extension adjacent to the old part (referred to as the lower cemetery) in the north-east and bounded by Telegraph Lane East, was opened in 1924 > LinkExternal link on land formerly owned by Isaac Bugg Coaks, and at times used as a grazing ground for the Cavalry horses, and Mr Bullard from Riverside used to train his horses there. This new part or upper cemetery was laid out according to the advice received from Captain Sandys-Winsch, the then head of the council parks department and the designer of Eaton Park, Wensum Park, Waterloo Park, and Heigham Park in Norwich. The Rosary came under the control of the Norwich Corporation in 1954 and it is estimated that about 18,500 people have been buried there since 1821.

To anyone interested in symbols and carvings > LinkExternal link on gravestones and monuments the Rosary offers a rich field of study. The Victorians had a particular preoccupation with death: many houses of the period had a 'coffin corner', a niche cut into the stairwell so that the coffin could make the turn in the flight of stairs, and some houses had a showcase window, where the deceased could lie in state for people to pass by on the street and pay their respects. This preoccupation is also reflected in the art of the period, including the decorative artwork seen on gravestones.

The Rosary also contains 31 Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) graves > LinkExternal link all made to the same design from Portland stone. The prominent circle at the top of each headstone depicts a national emblem or the regimental badge > LinkExternal link. Below the badge are the details of the buried serviceman or woman, commonly comprising service number, rank, name, military deocrations, regiment, age and date of death. Due to the practice of non-repatriation of the dead, Commonwealth servicemen and women who died on active service abroad were buried abroad. The majority of those buried in the UK are for this reason those who died either in military hospitals in the UK, in training accidents or in air raids, or those whose bodies had been washed ashore. Special commemorative headstones for individuals who are buried elsewhere also exist (but not in the Rosary). They look the same as the usual CWGC headstones but in addition have a superscription across the top, marking them as commemorating stones rather than headstones situated over an actual grave. Many other war casualties who are buried abroad are commemorated on the gravestones of their relatives, which can be difficult to spot because they do not stand out like the uniform, clean and well-maintained CWGC graves. All the 31 CWGC headstones in the Rosary are situated over actual graves.

A great number of wild flowers, many of these native, can be found growing in the areas of grassland, and more than 130 flowering plants have been recorded. The lower cemetery (which is the older part) is managed as a nature reserve. The Rosary is also host to a great variety of birds, and one of the best locations in Norwich to observe butterflies.

The first OS map (surveyed 1880/83, published 1886) records three OS benchmarks in the cemetery: by the NE corner of the boundary wall (105.5); by the SE corner of the boundary wall (138.8), and on the SE corner of the cemetery lodge by the entrance (60.5). The cemetery also had a well, dating from before 1878. According to the record held at the National Geoscience Data Centre ((161/p9), water was struck at about 30 metres, through layers of brick earth, sand and gravel, and chalk. The well would seem to have been sealed a long time ago. It was situated at TG 2440 0846 (near the north-south path separating Sections F and G).

The year 2019 is a landmark date for the Rosary Cemetery in that it was established 200 years ago in 1819.

For graves of interest and detailed information about the people buried there, be they members of Norwich's thriving Victorian merchant community, leaders of industry, bankers, eminent surgeons, painters, writers, preachers, or ordinary working people - they all have a story to tell - see my article. LinkExternal link.
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Evelyn Simak and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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TG2408, 2570 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
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Date Taken
Thursday, 7 October, 2010   (more nearby)
Submitted
Friday, 8 October, 2010
Category
Mausoleum   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 244 084 [100m precision]
WGS84: 52:37.6221N 1:18.8521E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 243 083
View Direction
Northeast (about 45 degrees)
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