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Grave of Amelia Edwards

List Entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

Name: Grave of Amelia Edwards

List entry Number: 1439170

Location

St Mary's Henbury Parish, Close House, Church Close, Bristol, BS10 7QF

The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:

District: City of Bristol

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: II

Date first listed: 23-Sep-2016

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

Grave of Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards and her companion Ellen Drew Braysher.

Reasons for Designation

The grave of Amelia Edwards is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: in the unusual use of Egyptian symbolism in a C19 funerary monument; * Historic interest: in commemorating the life and accomplishments of Amelia Edwards and her legacy to Egyptian studies; * Social interest: as a poignant memorial to Amelia Edwards and her beloved companion Ellen Braysher, with their relationship unusually described in the inscription.

History

Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards was born to Thomas Edwards, a banker, and Alicia Walpole on the 7th June 1831 in Islington, London. An only child, Amelia displayed an early talent for writing, publishing in periodicals by the age of 14, before deciding to devote her life to music, taking up the guitar and the organ. Following a period of illness which affected her singing, and an 'unsuitable engagement' in 1851 which she broke off in 1852, Amelia returned to writing in 1853, publishing a short story in Eliza Cooke's Journal. Amelia made a new resolution to be a writer and later came to regret the time spent on music. Her first novel, My Brother's Wife, was published in 1864 and was well-received and she went on to publish a further nine novels as well as a collection of short stories, children's books and translations of works of non-fiction.

It is, however, the accounts of her travels for which she is perhaps best remembered. Amelia's journey through the then largely unknown and inaccessible Dolomites of Italy with a friend, Lucy Renshawe, was described and illustrated in Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys (1873). It was a visit to Egypt though that so changed her life. Ameila was fascinated with the country and, in particular, its antiquities. Travelling again with Lucy Renshawe, the two women hired a dahabiyah (a shallow-bottomed passenger boat) and sailed to Wadi Halfa, discovering and excavating a small unknown temple with a painted chamber at Abu Simbel. On returning to England Amelia immersed herself in the study of ancient Egypt, reading about its history and archaeology while learning to decipher hieroglyphics. Her studies and experience travelling led her to write her most successful work, A Thousand Miles up the Nile (1876), illustrated with her own watercolours. Amelia's study of and interest in Egypt continued until her death, and she contributed hundreds of well-researched articles on Egypt to a variety of publications. Her particular concern at the neglect of ancient monuments and the vandalism by visitors in Egypt led her to actively campaign for their scientific excavation and protection, resulting in the formation of the Egypt Exploration Fund (later the Egypt Exploration Society) on 27th March 1882. Elected honorary joint secretary of the Society along with R S Poole, Amelia showed great dedication, soliciting funds, lecturing throughout England, writing about the work of the Society, and undertaking a lecture tour in the United States during 1889-1890, taking in 110 meetings in 16 states.

While supervising the unloading of antiquities arriving from Egypt at the London docks in October 1891, Amelia contracted a lung infection. She died of pneumonia on the 15th April 1892 at Weston-super-Mare near The Larches, Westbury-on-Trym, the home which she had shared with her long-time companion Ellen Drew Braysher (1804-1892 ). Amelia was buried on the 18th April alongside her beloved Ellen, who had died only a few months previously, and Ellen's daughter, Sarah Harriet (1832-1864), in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Henbury. A large Egyptian ankh, the sign of life, was added to the grave to reflect her abiding interest in the country. On her death, she left an extensive library on Egyptian studies as well as a collection of Egyptian artefacts to the University College London as well as a bequest of £2,500 to establish the first English Chair in Egyptology, which was awarded to her friend and colleague Flinders Petrie.

Described by others as a dignified woman with charm and wit, Amelia was a gifted writer, musician and scholar with a wide range of interests, serving also as the vice-president of the Society for the Promotion of Women's Suffrage. It is, however, her description of her home-life in an article in The Arena, which gives the most intimate glimpse, '…she [Amelia] lives, and has lived for more than a quarter of a century, with a very dear friend, in a small, irregularly built house, which together they have from time to time enlarged and improved, according to their pleasure.' Going on to describe herself, Amelia says, '…there is little or nothing to tell. I am essentially a worker, and a hard worker, and this I have been since my early girlhood.'

Details

Grave of Amelia Ann Glandford Edwards, Ellen Drew Braysher and Sarah Harriet Braysher located immediately adjacent to the Church of St Mary the Virgin. Set within a raised stone kerb with wrought iron dwarf railings, it consists of a stone obelisk bearing the inscription to the front (east) face: HERE LIES THE BODY OF AMELIA ANN BLANFORD EDWARDS NOVELIST AND ARCHAEOLOGIST BORN IN LONDON ON THE 7TH JUNE 1831 DIED AT WESTON-SUPER-MARE ON THE 1ST APRIL 1892 WHO BY HER WRITINGS AND HER LABOURS ENRICHED THE THOUGHTS AND INTERESTS OF HER TIME. The rear face is inscribed: SACRED ALSO TO THE MEMORY OF ELLEN DREW BRAYSHER WIDOW OF JOHN BRAYSHER ESQ AND FOR MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS THE BELOVED FRIEND OF AMELIA B EDWARDS [BORN AT GREEN END] NEAR HEMEL HEMPSTEAD [9TH APRIL 1804] DIED AT THE LARCHES WESTBURY-ON-TRYM 9TH JANUARY 1892 AGED 87 YEARS SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY SHALL FOLLOW ME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE. To the side is a further inscription: TO THE BELOVED MEMORY OF SARAH HARRIET ONLY SURVIVING CHILD OF THE LATE JOHN BRAYSHER AND ELLEN HIS WIDOW WHO DEID AT PARIS IN THE FLOWER OF HER AGE …5….OF JU…1864 THIS MONUMENT IS ERECTED BY HER BEREAVED MOTHER IN CONSECRATION OF A GRIEF THAT KNOWS NO ENDING AND A LOVE THAT KNOWS NO CHANGE. A stone ankh, the Egyptian symbol of life, was added to the grave after Amelia's death.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
, Joan Rees, Amelia Edwards Traveller, Novelist & Egyptologist, (1998)
Websites
Article in the Journal The Arena Vol 4 1891, accessed 23/08/2016 from www.ia601604.us.archive.org/BookReader/BookReaderImages.php?zip=/12/items/Arena
Biography, accessed 16/08/2016 from www.digital.library.upenn.edu/women/edwards/edwards.html
Oxford Dictionary of Biography, accessed 23/08/2016 from http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/8529
Other
Amelia Blanford Edwards, 1831-1892 by Barbara S Lesko

National Grid Reference: ST5634078802

Map

Map
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End of official listing