Tidying up George Eliot's Grave
Members of the Fellowship Give TLC at Highgate
In April 2018 a group of members went to tidy Eliot's grave.
For many years two of our London members, Beryl Gray and Rosalind Shanks, used to make regular visits to Highgate cemetery to give some tender loving care to the grave of George Eliot. They are no longer able to do this task and for a while the Fellowship paid for a commercial firm to undertake the tidying up twice a year.
In recent years, however, we felt that it would be somehow more respectful if members of the Fellowship, and friends or family, were able to volunteer to give the grave a cared for appearance. There are a few difficulties. We want it to look cared for but it is in a wild and very green part of the cemetery, with overhanging tall trees and surrounded by other neglected graves where mother nature and ivy are tending to take back their land. So it would be inappropriate to add huge amounts of colour or a formal design to what is essentially a natural retreat in a leafy part of North London.
In early April Joy, Viv and Liz travelled variously from Southam, Hinckley and elsewhere in London to tidy up the grave to show visitors that there are people who care enough to make the effort. The cemetery authorities are very understanding and are happy to let the Fellowship tend the grave, which they say is the second most visited, after Karl Marx, in the cemetery. We hope to come to an arrangement with the cemetery to have some leaflets about George Eliot which visitors can pick up on their way in or out of the cemetery.
The team cleared a lot of the weeds which inevitably grow quickly in our climate and they have planted a selection of Spring flowers until such time as we can plan a more organised but informal collection of plants to give an inpact throughout the year. Any which we know George Eliot loved would be particularly appropriate. We hope that the grave will look particularly good during 2019, the bicentenary year.
Every time teams have visited the grave to tidy it up in the last two or three years they have had interesting conversations with visitors, many of whom are clearly fans and very knowledgeable.
The top two pictures show Viv and her granddaughter and Joy. Above are just two of the people who stopped to chat whilst the team was at work. Ann gave a donation for the work. On the right are a Japanese doctor and his family. About 25% of our members are Japanese, so it was lovely that they arrived whilst our team was there.
Published on 23 April 2018