TG2408 : The grave of John Cox

taken 2 months ago, near to Norwich, Norfolk, Great Britain

This is 1 of 2 images, with title The grave of John Cox in this square
The grave of John Cox
The grave of John Cox
Only the steps remain of the cross that once marked the grave of John Cox, master of The Great Hospital in Norwich from November 1876 to May 1906. He died on 17 May 1906, aged 64. His wife Caroline (d 26 May 1910, aged 70) and their elder son Thomas Percy Cox LRCS/LRCP (d 17 June 1913, aged 40) are also buried here.

The Great Hospital > LinkExternal link was also known as the Hospital of St Giles, and master still is the title of the manager or chief executive of the hospital, now sheltered housing. The first master was Hamon de Calthorpe in 1276, and Dorothy North was its first female master from 2000 to 2007.

The hospital was founded in the mid-13th century by Bishop Walter de Suffield, who dedicated it to St Giles, the patron saint of the disabled, beggars and lepers. For the first three hundred years or so it was known as the Hospital of St Giles and it was situated on what was then known as Holme Street, adjacent to the church of St Helen and the Cathedral precinct. The hospital was to be run by a master, assisted by four devout chaplains. At that time, the master had to be a priest and he had to commit to reside at the hospital, and to hold no other benefice. He was to have no mounted attendant, unless it was one of the chaplains or brethren or clerks of the house. The master and his chaplains were to live in the same house and to partake of the same food and drink.

All were to rise at dawn at the sound of the greater bell, and to proceed together from the dormitory, entering the church in surplices and copes. No one was to move about the house or precincts before the early mass, save the master if necessity required it. There were to be three daily masses. In chapel, the master and chaplains were to wear surplices and round black copes; they were each to dress in good cloth of some non-prohibited colour.

On a vacancy, the prior of Norwich and the archdeacons of Norwich and Norfolk, after an interval of three weeks, were to hold an inquisition as to the fitness and suitability of the chaplains of the house and of some outsider, and to present such a one as master to be immediately admitted by the bishop or by his official in his absence from the kingdom. Immediately on admission the master was to swear to keep the goods of the hospital in a proper state, and to observe the ordinances of the house. The cumbersome rules for the appointment of the master were altered by Bishop Roger de Skirning in 1272, so that the chaplains of the house, on a vacancy, were entitled to choose their successor. In the 16th century, master Thomas Cappe LL.D, elected in 1532, was paid 12 1s. 4d for his board and stipend and for the board of a servant. (Source: A History of the County of Norfolk, Volume 2, published by Victoria County History, London, 1906). No doubt things had changed by the time John Cox became master in 1876, but his responsibilities would have remained the same.
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. 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. The writer Geoffrey Goreham in his book about Thorpe Hamlet (1972) 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". 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.
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Grid Square
TG2408, 2554 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
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Date Taken
Sunday, 2 June, 2019   (more nearby)
Submitted
Sunday, 2 June, 2019
Geographical Context
City, Town centre  Burial ground, Crematorium 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 2442 0839 [10m precision]
WGS84: 52:37.6109N 1:18.8690E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 2442 0839
View Direction
East-northeast (about 67 degrees)
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