A Rare Group of Six Mid 20thc Memorial Headstones for Beloved Pets c.1942-77

Origin: British
Period: Mid 20thC
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1942-1977
Four Examples at: 15” h x 12” w x 1.5” d
The Smaller Arched Example at: 17.5” h x 9” w x 2” d
The Largest Arched Example at: 25” h x 10.5” w x 2.5” d

The rare group of six memorial headstones, two of arched form and four rectangular, beautifully carved with inscriptions of pet names, both for dogs and cats, all but one dated, and some with epitaphs, each surviving from the second and third quarters of the twentieth century.

Each headstone is in untouched, unrestored and uncleaned and in as found condition, all with weathering commensurate with age and many with residual grass and moss stains due to them outside. They would clean up with a pressure washer if so desired.

The examples include;

1. Dear Bobtail. Lost but only gone before.

2. Gin & Tonic 1955 1967 1968

3. Snipe for she was dearer than the rest, and better than the best, C.EB. 17.11.42

4. Blueberry Muffin 1969-1971

5 My Smudge 1961-1977

6. Mr. Jeeves 1954-1966

Many human cultures buried animal remains. The Ancient Egyptians mummified and buried cats, which they considered deities. The largest dog cemetery in the ancient world was discovered at the Ashkelon National Park in Ashkelon, Israel. Cimetière des Chiens in Asnières-sur-Seine in Paris, dating from 1899, is an elaborate, sculpted pet cemetery believed to be one of the first public zoological necropolis in the world whilst America's largest and oldest pet cemetery is in Hartsdale, New York. It dates from 1896 when a vet working out of Manhattan offered to let a grieving pet owner bury her dog in his hillside apple orchard. Today it is the final resting place for more than 70,000 animals. Headstones for pets didn’t become popular and fashionable in America until the 1940’s when “pet cemeteries” first began sprouting up across America.

In more recent times, London's Hyde Park was the site of an informal pet's cemetery between 1881 and 1903 in the gatekeeper's garden. From the first burial of "Cherry" until its official closure in 1903, it received 300 burials with miniature headstones, with a final special burial of the Royal Marines mascot dog "Prince" in 1967.

The first grave of "Cherry" a Maltese Terrier was proposed as the owners frequently walked their dog in Hyde Park and made good acquaintance with the Gatekeeper at Victoria Lodge. When Cherry died of old age permission was granted to bury her there. A tombstone bearing the inscription “Poor Cherry. Died April 28. 1881,” was constructed in his memory. The idea caught on and more beloved pets were buried there up until 1903 eventually reaching over 300 graves. Dogs especially met their end early in the Victorian era as they were often crushed under the feet of the horses that used the carriageways in the park.

These headstones are very similar in style, size and form to those found at Hyde Park.

Provoking amazement, respect and perhaps some rather uncomfortable amusement, these stones are fitting emotional tributes, filling a void that would be felt upon the loss of a treasured companion, and the grief that would accompany that loss. They display raw emotion from their owners and they also prove beautifully decorative items for these beloved pets at rest.