A History of Sarsfield Memorials

The oldest family run monumental masons in Liverpool. Sarsfield Memorials has spanned three generations and next year we look forward to celebrating seventy years in business.

The company was founded in 1947 by James Sarsfield and the following decade he was joined by his three sons, Tony, Bernard and Terry. The youngest son Terry served an apprenticeship in 1950’s as a stonemason in Carrara in Italy and Sarsfield still has business relationships with the quarries there.

James Sarsfield passed away in 1968 and the three brothers continued the business until Tony left in 1980 and Bernard retired in 1990. Terry then ran the company until his daughter Ursula joined the business in 1997, but he remained involved and retired completely in 2007 at the age of 75. Ursula can remember as a young girl spending many a Sunday afternoon visiting cemeteries with her father as he costed jobs. Today she prides herself in dealing with all customers personally and offering a bespoke service that allows people to have a perfect lasting symbol of remembrance for their loved one.

Former St Swithins Church Croxteth

In addition to the traditional family headstones, Sarsfield has also carried out many commissions for the Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool, including the supply and fixing of altars. The first altar Sarsfield supplied was at the new church of St Swithin’s in Gillmoss in 1959, where Terry got married in October that year, the first nuptial mass to take place there. Unfortunately the church closed in 2004 but Terry and May are still going strong and this year they celebrate 57 years married.

One of the most high profile commissions was in 1996 when we supplied and fixed the black slate tomb at the final resting place of Derek Worlock, who was Archbishop of Liverpool from 1976 until his death in 1996. The tomb is situated in the Chapel of St John at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. We have also supplied the lectern for this cathedral, which has been made out of one solid piece of curved marble. for which we have also supplied the marble lectern. We have also worked on the Martins Bank building in Water Street and the Princes crestRoad Synagogue along with many other listed buildings in the Liverpool area.

In 1998 we were asked to supply the plinth for the statue of Captain F J Walker at Liverpool’s Pier Head. Commonly known as Johnnie, Walker was the highly successful captain of a fleet that cruised the Atlantic seeking to destroy German submarines. His exploits led to him being nominated for a knighthood but he died in July 1944 of exhaustion and war weariness at the age of just 48. The statue, which depicts Walker looking out to sea, was sculpted by Tom Murphy and unveiled by the Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh

FJ Walker statue LiverpoolAlthough Ursula now manages the business Terry continues to be involved in stonemasonry despite being in his eighties. He is an honorary member and past president of the National Association of Monumental Masons (NAMM) and provides consultancy on all aspects of the industry to masons both at home and abroad. He is also the UK agent for Incimar who supply lettering equipment to the trade.

The development of the internet has seen Sarsfield now receive enquiries from far and wide. Many of these are from people who live outside of Liverpool and the United Kingdom looking to restore graves of loved ones who are buried in the city’s cemeteries. 2015 was our busiest for many years and was capped when we were approached by Quest TV over appearing in an episode of Salvage Hunters. Filming took place at our yard in Broad Green in November of that year, the episode airing on QUEST TV (Freeview 37, Sky 144, Virgin Media 172) at 9pm on 9th March 2016


Graves of Catholic Churchmen in Liverpool

February 8th 2016 is the twentieth anniversary of the death of Archbishop Derek Worlock. From 1976 to 1996 he was the highest ranking Catholic churchman in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, which also covers the Isle of Man and parts of Cheshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

Worlock, at whose WooltoTomb of Bishop Warlockn home Pope John Paul II stayed when he visited the city in 1982, was still in office when he died of lung cancer. He was in Liverpool at a time when the city was faced with the Toxteth Riots and two great tragedies; Heysel and Hillsborough. The 1980s were also a period of severe economic downturn and Worlock worked with his Anglican equivalent, David Sheppard, to deal with the challenges. They co-wrote two books, Better Together and With Hope in Our Hearts, and were jokingly referred to as fish and Chips as they were always together and never out of the papers.

Worlock’s tomb is situated in Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King and he is the only archbishop to be entombed in the main building. His predecessor George Beck’s tomb is underneath in the Lutyens Crypt, built in the 1930s and the only part of what was planned to be the largest church in the world outside of Rome to be completed. Beck died in 1978 and the Chapel of Relics where he is entombed is closed by the Rolling Stone Gate, signifying the stone which was placed over Christ’s tomb. John Heenan, who preceded Beck, is not buried in Liverpool. Having left to become a cardinal in 1963, he is buried in Westminster Cathedral, England’s de facto main Catholic church.

The Chapel of Relics also contains the tomb of two other archbishops; The first is that of Thomas Whiteside, who was elevated from bishop to archbishop in 1911 wh en Liverpool became an ecclesiastical province.  He died in office in 1921 at the age of sixty three. The other is that of Richard Downey, who oversaw the building of the crypt and had envisaged that the ultimate construction would have a great figure of Christ on it that would be seen for many a mile out at sea. He died whilst still in office in 1953, having served for twenty-four years.

At the Liverpool Roman Catholic Cemetery in Ford, Litherland, there are a number of graves of prominent Catholic churchmen from Victorian times. One of those is Liverpool’s second bishop, Alexander Goss, who took up the position in 1856. He studied in Rome and was a Vice-president of St Edward’s College in Everton, where he died suddenly in 1872 at the age of fifty-eight. The college, which is now situated in West Derby, was founded in 1853 by Father James Nugent. He was a pioneer of child welfare, poverty relief and social reform. At a time when only 5% of Catholic children received an education, he also founded a school in Rodney Street as well as the Liverpool Catholic Children’s Protection Society.  He was also the first Catholic chaplain to Walton gaol and sat with many a condemned prisoner in their final hours before being hanged. Nugent died at the age of eighty-three in 1905, having suffered a head injury during a fall on a liner returning from America. Like Goss, he is buried at the cemetery in Ford and his legacy lives on in the Nugent Care Society, the present name for the society he founded in 1881.