A Rare Group of Eight Early 20thC Memorial Marble Headstones for Beloved Pets c.1895-1916

Origin: English
Period: Late Victorian/Edwardian
Provenance: 59, The Avenue, West Ealing, London
Date: c.1894-1916
Measurements vary, see below.

The rare group of eight miniature memorial headstones of arched form carved in marble with leaded insert lettering inscriptions of pet names, both for dogs and cats, many dated, and some with epitaphs, each surviving from the zeniths of the Victorian period and into Edwardian times.

Each headstone is in untouched, unrestored and uncleaned and in as found condition, all with weathering commensurate with age and many with stains due to them being lent on each other for a long period outside. Please note in the photographs there are ten stones. NB: Two stones 'Tommy' and 'Saint Wupps' are not available so the price is for the set of eight.

Specific condition and details for each headstone is as follows with correspondence to the numbers on the photographs:

1. “In fond remembrance: Tommy. Born July 1st 1894 Died July 2nd 1908 Aged 14 Years. A most trustworthy friend and true comrade. Gone to his rest.  *NOT AVAILABLE*

Five or 6 inset letters absent, a few small chips and fritting. Can stand unaided. Good. Measures 22 x 12 inches.

2. “Prinnie 1897-1910”

A few chips, one corner chipped absent, cannot stand unaided. Good. Measures 18.5 x 9.25 inches.

3. “In loving memory of our old friend Carlo Tarley. Who was always trusting and faithful. Died 24th Feb 1910. Aged 8 years 11 months. S.F.A”

With bottom inset lip still in situe, cannot stand unaided, no lead to the lettering. Good.

4. “Moza. Aloveing pet died Feb 21. 1916 aged 2 years”

Chip to corner, some pitting, cannot stand unaided. Measures 19.5 x 11 inches.

5. “Saint Wups 1903.” *NOT AVAILABLE*

Two chips, one letter lead insert absent, can stand unaided. Very good.

6. “In loving memory of Jap and Gip 18. July 05 – 21 Jan. 08. ROM VIII. 19 to 23”

Bottom corner absent, can’t stand unaided. Good. Measures 21 x 11 inches.

7. “In memory of “Prince” M.L.

Chipping and fritting, one letter insert absent, can stand unaided. Good. Measures 18.5 x 9.5 inches.

8. “Birdie”

One letter insert absent, can’t stand unaided. Good. Measures 19.25 x 9.25 inches.

9. “Ninon aged 13”

Minor fritting, can’t stand unaided. Very Good. Measures 19.25 x 9.25 inches

10. “Frisette. Aunty’s Pet.”

Minor fritting, can stand unaided. Very Good. Measures 18.75 x 9.25 inches.

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 identical in style, size and form to those found at Hyde Park and date very closely to those too and it is thus an almost certainty that they were made by the same hand. We cannot find any other source in England, let alone London with pet memorial stones that are antique.

59, The Avenue, West Ealing, London was a veterinary surgeons and these stones have been removed directly from the site. They were already loose, and not inserted into any ground, and the owners of the house who have lived there for the past 35 years, are on the move to France.

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, an etiquette that was unusual and generally not encouraged in the restrained and prudish Victorian era and they also prove beautifully decorative items for these beloved pets at rest.