Granite Headstones

Granite headstones are an ideal material when choosing a memorial for your loved one. They are low cost compared to many other materials and available in various finishings and the strength of granite means it is a very durable and naturalgranite headstones material.

The word granite originates from the Latin granum (grain) and refers to the rock’s coarse grained structure. It comes in a variety of colours and is distributed

around much of the Earth. It is too deep down and therefore comparatively straightforward to excavate. These factors mean that granite headstones compare very well in terms of cost against those made from other materials.

The strength of granite means it is a very durable headstone. However granite memorials only appeared in cemeteries in the 1830s after the invention of the steam powered cutting process by Alexander MacDonald of Aberdeen. Prior to MacDonald’s invention, granite headstones were unfeasible as they simply could not be effectively hand carved.

During the Victorian era, large granite memorials became prominent all over Britain and on seeing them in cemeteries today, it is sometimes difficult to believe they have been exposed to the elements for 150 years or more. Granite remains popular today partly because of this durability but also due to it requiring relatively low maintenance. Providing the right materials are used, it can be cleaned without damaging the surface or increasing the risk of further damage.

granite headstones

If you are considering a granite headstone for somebody buried in a churchyard, they are only allowed at the discretion of the priest or vicar. Depending on the location of the churchyard some will only allow Yorkstone. As such we always seek advice for memorials within churchyards at the earliest stage, especially when they are outside our area. Within the Merseyside area where we primarily work we know more what is allowed and what isn’t.

Granite comes in a variety of colours, including shades of black, red, grey and blue. This means there is plenty of choice when choosing the right memorial made from granite for your loved one. Modern techniques of laser etching and sandblasting mean that there is no limit to what epitaph or images can be placed on granite headstones.

All these factors mean that at Sarsfield Memorials we receive a lot of enquiries for granite headstones and can offer a variety of choices to meet your requirements. Please contact us and we will be happy to have a discussion and provide a free no obligation quote.

Graves of St John’s Church Knotty Ash

The churchyard of St John’s Church Knotty Ash contains a number of notable graves. It is said to have more former mayors of Liverpool buried there than any other church in the city.

The church opened in 1836 but by 1890 the graveyard was full. A local resident, Miss A M Thompson, purchased an adjoining field and donated it to the church, allowing more burials to take place from 1895 onwards. There are now over 4,000 people buried there, a quarter of them children.

St Johns Church Knotty Ash

One of the vaults in the graveyard was owned by the Gladstone family of Court Hey. Among those interred in the vault is Robertson Gladstone, who was Mayor in 1842-43. Robertson was the older brother of William Gladstone, who was Prime Minister on four occasions in the latter part of the 19th Century. Although Robertson attended Eton like his brother, he had no desire to go into politics on a national level and instead became a successful merchant and property developer in Liverpool.

Thomas Littledale was only 32 years old when he became Mayor in 1851.His father, also Thomas, had been one of the founders of the church and was Mayor in 1826-27. Thomas junior was Chairman of the Dock Committee and in his spare time was enthusiastic about watersports. It was whilst following this passion that he died unexpectedly in 1861 at the age of 42. The cause of his death was a ruptured blood vessel and it occurred while he was in London to watch the University Boat Race. He is also interred in a family vault at the church.

One of the most difficult to pronounce graves is that of Ferdinand Schwerdtfeger, who died in 1875 at the age of 53. He was the headmaster of a small school in Haymans Green in West Derby and his memorial was erected by former pupils.

A crew member from the Titanic, whose body was never knowingly recovered, has his name on a memorial in the churchyard. Norman Harrison was a second engineer who lived at Baden Road in Old Swan. He was 38 years old when he died and left a widow but no children.

There are nine war graves at the churchyard maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission;six soldiers, one airman and two sailors.

Finally, one of the most prominent memorials that can be seen clearly from the road is a late 19th Century Celtic cross. This marks the grave of John Bencke, a hemp and flax trader who lived in West Derby. Originally from Germany, he died at the age of 79 in 1894.