History buffs visit graveyard in bid to bring Barking’s ‘greats’ back to life
PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:05 24 October 2019
A team of budding amateur historians has visited a cemetery to “bring to life” some of Barking’s greats.
Members of the Barking Town Heritage Project have roamed among the gravestones at Rippleside Cemetery seeking out the final resting places of the Victorians who transformed the town and who form the subjects of their research.
Sue Hamilton said: "Doing this project has completely opened my eyes to Barking. Coming to the cemetery and seeing everybody we have been researching brings it all to life."
The cemetery owes its existence in large part to the efforts of Dr Hugh Herbert Mason and his wife Susanna.
Both served on the Barking Burial Board, managing the expansion of the graveyard at St Margaret's Church to Rippleside, which opened in 1886.
Susanna, the first female town councillor when elected to the Urban District Council in 1894, gave birth to Edward and Marianne, who sadly died aged seven in 1896.
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Her brief life is commemorated in a beautiful stained glass window, donated along with a series by Susanna, in Rippleside's Chapel of Rest, designed by Charles Dawson whose grave is opposite the Grade II-listed building.
Dawson is another of Barking's eminent Victorians, having designed many of the town's schools and the former District Council Town Hall which went on to become Barking's magistrates' court, now used for flats.
And a nearby plot marks the final resting places of members of the Hewett family which started a fishing business on the River Roding that went on to become one of the country's biggest ports, storing and unloading stocks for Billingsgate Fish Market.
Every grave reveals a story, but the team's real focus is delving into tales of the shops in East Street and the surrounding Town Conservation Area.
It's a part of Barking Dr Mason knew well because it's where he ran the Provident Dispensary which enabled the poor to get advice and medicines cheaply in the days before the NHS.
The team's eight volunteers are finding out more about the histories and characters behind the shops in the project part funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and managed by the council owned development firm, Be First.
For more information visit yourcall.befirst.london/barking-heritage
To join the team email Simone Panayi at firstname.lastname@example.org
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