23 notable people buried in Surrey

Brookwood cemetery is the largest burial ground in the UK. Image: Chris Howard

Brookwood cemetery is the largest burial ground in the UK. Image: Chris Howard - Credit: Archant

From royal astronomers to renowned explorers and much-loved authors – the county is the final resting place to some surprising faces

Edward the Martyr, 978, Brookwood

A person’s final resting place may not be where they were first buried and Edward the Martyr (b. c.962/3) is a case in point. A young Anglo-Saxon king of England, Edward was murdered, reputedly on the orders of his stepmother, Ælfthryth, who favoured her own son, Edward’s younger half-brother, Æthelred II, a.k.a. ‘the Unready’. Murdered at Corfe (Dorset), Edward was originally buried (and re-buried) in that county before finding a new home in Surrey as recently as 1984. It appears the king’s remains were lost after the Dissolution but recovered in the early-1930s. A lengthy stand-off followed as different churches vied to house his relics, which now repose in Brookwood’s Orthodox Church, which, of course, is dedicated to St. Edward the Martyr.

Sir Walter Raleigh, 1618, West Horsley

It would be nice to be buried whole, but that was an outcome that eluded Sir Walter Raleigh (b. c.1552/4), the famous courtier, explorer and poet. Surrey can lay claim to his head, which gives a hefty clue as to his fate. An explorer of North America’s Eastern seaboard, a pain in the butt to the Spanish and an impetuous soul who lost favour with Elizabeth I when he married one of her ladies in waiting, Raleigh was later imprisoned by James I for alleged conspiracy (1603-16). Released to undertake a voyage to hopefully discover famed ‘Eldorado’, the expedition caused more strife with the Spanish and resulted in Raleigh’s beheading. He introduced both potatoes and tobacco into England and the rest of him lies in St Margaret’s, Westminster.

John Evelyn, 1706, Wotton

John Evelyn (b.1620) was a writer, diarist & gardener and the first of our ten to have been born and buried in the county. Born to wealthy parents at Wotton House, near Dorking, Evelyn moved back to Wotton in 1694, then inherited the estate and house five years later on the death of his elder brother. His diary (1640-1706) covered a much longer period than that of his rival Pepys (1660-69) but was less detailed and is not as famous today. Nevertheless, he wrote of Charles I’s execution, the plague and Great Fire of London. Evelyn and his wife, Mary (d.1709), are both buried in the Evelyn Chapel in St John’s, Wotton. The retailer ‘Crabtree & Evelyn’ is partly named from John Evelyn, who wrote one of the first works on conservation.

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John Flamsteed, 1719, Burstow

Born in Derbyshire, John Flamsteed (b.1646) was a notable astronomer and the first Astronomer Royal (1675), the year before the Greenwich Observatory was built. It was Flamsteed’s observations that really kicked off the modern practice of astronomy, as he compiled the first catalogue of the stars and their fixed positions. His magnum opus was his three volume ‘Historia Coelestis Britannica’ (1725), which was an account of his astronomical observations, recording no fewer than 3,000 stars. He also recorded the first observations of Uranus. Flamsteed also took holy orders and from 1684 he held the ‘living’ of Burstow for the 35 years that remained of his life. He lies buried, with his wife, in the chancel of St. Bartholomew’s, Burstow.

Matthew Arnold, 1888, Laleham

Once of Middlesex, and now of Surrey, Laleham was the birthplace of Matthew Arnold (b.1822), the poet and cultural critic. If you’re wondering, he was indeed the son of famous Rugby School headmaster, Dr. Thomas Arnold. An inspector of schools (1851-86), Matthew Arnold was often sent to review the state of schools on the continent and did not hold back in his criticism of our woeful impersonators. He was also Professor of Poetry at Oxford (1857-67), lectured in the United States and left around 40 published works. Although he died in Liverpool, Arnold was laid to rest where his story had begun, back in Laleham (All Saints’ Church). He suffered a heart attack when running to catch a train.

Charles Dodgson, a.k.a. ‘Lewis Carroll’, 1898, Guildford

I feel the need for a ‘nom de plume’ coming on. Charles Dodgson, a.k.a. ‘Lewis Carroll’, was the ‘Alice’ novelist. Born in Cheshire, Dodgson obtained a 1st Class in Maths at Oxford, and, like Flamsteed, took religious orders. A lecturer in Maths (1855-81), his foray into children’s lit seems to have been inspired by befriending young Alice Liddell, daughter of Henry George Liddell. The original MS of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ sold to a US buyer (1928) for £15,400 (just under £1 million in today’s wonga). Dodgson/Carroll has been named as a possible ‘Jack the Ripper’ suspect, but then who hasn’t? He’s buried in Guildford (Mount Cemetery), a town that is a bit of a magnet for literary luminaries (P.G. Wodehouse having been born here).

Sir Henry Morton Stanley, 1904, Pirbright

“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” Sir Henry Morton Stanley (b.1841), journalist and explorer to be, was born in Wales. An out and out adventurer, Stanley fought for the Confederates during the American Civil War, worked overseas as a newspaper correspondent, and then, in October 1869, was given the instruction ‘find Livingstone’. He duly found the Scottish missionary and traveller at Ujiji, Tanzania, in November 1871, uttering that immortal greeting in the process. Stanley completed more African exploration, married the artist Dorothy Tennant and sat as an MP (1895-1900). As well as writing accounts of his travels Stanley also wrote a novel (‘My Kalulu’, 1873). Having died in London, he was buried in the churchyard of St Michael & All Angels’, Pirbright.

Ross Mangles, 1905, Brookwood

I’m returning to Brookwood for a story I felt had to be shared. Very few civilians have ever been awarded the VC, just five in fact, and one of them, Ross Mangles (b.1833), lies at Brookwood. VCs can be awarded to civilians if they are ‘serving with the armed forces’ but they are extremely rare (four from the Indian Rebellion, 1857-58, and one from Afghanistan, 1879). Mangles was either the first, or among the first. A member of the Bengal Civil Service, in July 1857, he saved the life of a wounded soldier by firstly tending to his wounds ‘under a murderous fire’, then carrying him for several miles to safety. Mangles was aged 24. Buried at Brookwood, he also has a memorial at St. Michael & All Angel’s, Pirbright, the village where he died, aged 77.

Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins, 1933, Leatherhead

And so, to Leatherhead, where Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins, or ‘Anthony Hope’ (b.1863), the author of ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’ (1894), is buried. Born in London and called to the Bar (1887), Hope is chiefly recalled for his ‘Ruritanian’ romances such as his most famous title (above) and ‘Rupert of Hentzau’ (1898). ‘Zenda’ was dramatised in 1896 and then became a Hollywood movie four years after Hope’s death. He was knighted in 1918. The author died at his country home, ‘Heath Farm’, Walton-on-the-Hill, aged 70, and was laid to rest in Leatherhead, the same Surrey town where he’d gone to school, at St. John’s, all those years before. You’ll find his grave in the churchyard at St. Mary & St. Nicholas’s.

Frederick Delius, 1934, Limpsfield

Frederick Delius (b.1862), the famous composer, had a surname of German-Scandinavian origin. His parents wanted a commercial career for him and sent him to Florida to plant oranges, but he studied music in his spare hours. He lived in Germany, then France, and began composing in an individual style hard to attribute to any musical ‘school’. Amongst his prolific output were six operas, choral and orchestral pieces. In 1924, Delius, afflicted by paralysis, became blind and helpless, yet continued composing with Eric Fenby’s help, tackling his final works, including the aptly-named ‘Songs of Farewell’ (1930). When he died, aged 72, Delius was firstly buried in France, but then found a new home in the churchyard of St. Peter’s, Limpsfield, the following year.

Other notable Surrey burials (brackets indicate reburial)

1788 – Thomas Gainsborough portrait & landscape painter (Kew).

1810 – Johan Zoffany, neoclassical painter (Kew).

1833 – Edmund Kean, celebrated Shakespearean actor (Richmond).

1835 – William Cobbett, pamphleteer, journalist & MP (Farnham).

1851 (1954) – Admiral Sir Edward Codrington, hero of Trafalgar (Brookwood).

1909 – George Meredith, Victorian novelist (Dorking).

1916 – John Wrightson, agriculturalist & reputedly our first surfer (Brookwood).

1925 – John Singer Sargent, American artist (Brookwood).

1931 – Sarah Smith, widow of Captain Edward J. Smith of the ‘Titanic’ (Brookwood).

1961 (1991) – Sir Thomas Beecham), conductor & impresario (Limpsfield).

1963 – Aldous Huxley, author of ‘Brave New World’ (Compton).

1977 – Dennis Wheatley, author of ‘The Devil Rides Out’ (Brookwood).

1986 – Alfred Bestall, author & illustrator of ‘Rupert’ books (Brookwood).

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