Damaged Kenilworth memorial repaired by funeral directors

Councillor Kate Dickson, Funeral Arranger Jenny Ireland, local historian Graham Gould and stonemason Guy Wright admiring Betsys Grave
Councillor Kate Dickson, Funeral Arranger Jenny Ireland, local historian Graham Gould and stonemason Guy Wright admiring Betsys Grave

A Kenilworth memorial to 17th century paupers is back on Warwick Road after being removed and restored by Henry Ison & Sons Funeral Directors over the past week.

The funeral director’s mason G H Davies & Son Shrewsbury found the memorial named Betsy’s Grave was hit with such force that its ground anchor – a metal anti-vandalism bar running 18 inches into the ground – burst through the back of the sandstone.

Betsy's Grave

Betsy's Grave

G H Davies & Son replaced the anchor in accordance with modern safety standards and carved the damaged stone into formation, as the broken-off fragments couldn’t be found.

The memorial was untouched until a plaque donated by Henry Ison & Sons marked it as Betsy’s Grave in 2011. It was polished and sandblasted by G H Davies & Son to reveal the inscription once more.

Elizabeth Armstrong, funeral director at Henry Ison & Sons, said: “Wherever possible Henry Ison & Sons gets involved with the local community and we’re pleased the new grave helps maintain Kenilworth’s history.

“The work done means this historical landmark does not disappear with age and we feel privileged to have been asked by the council to help.”

The Kenilworth Weekly News wrote about the incident when Betsy's Grave was damaged earlier this year in April.

Guy Wright, Mason at G H Davies & Son, said: “There are lots of new projects in Kenilworth and people tend to forget old architecture, so it’s great to restore something with heritage as Henry Ison & Sons’ dedicated mason.”

The restoration comes after Kenilworth town councillor and former mayor Kate Dickson approached Henry Ison & Sons to see if they could repair Betsy’s Grave.

Cllr Dickson said: “I was delighted to see the stones restored and replaced by Henry Ison & Sons and G H Davies & Son and I thank them for their help on the matter.

“This means this historic site, which is said to mark paupers’ graves, continues to remind our townsfolk of our responsibility to everyone in our community.”

Betsy’s Grave marks where paupers’ bodies were left by the neighbouring parish of Leek Wootton which was unwilling to pay for their funerals.

Historian Graham Gould, who has been campaigning for the repairs since he was a child, said: “I want to thank Henry Ison & Sons very much on my behalf personally and I’m sure on the behalf of many people in Kenilworth.

“Betsy’s Grave is back to a very high standard and it’s far better than what I anticipated. I’m very grateful for it.”