Friday, 1 January 2010

The Final Resting Places for Conan Doyle and his Family

During my research of Conan Doyle I have learnt many things, one being that several of his family are laid to rest in the local cemetary at Grayshott which is not far from the family home of Undershaw.

Arthur's mother, Mary Josephine Doyle, his first wife Louise, his son Kingsley and daughter Mary Louise are all buried in the lovely church of St Lukes in the popular village of Grayshott.

Arthur and his second wife are buried at the New Forest Church of All Saints, Minstead. Conan Doyle a devoted Spiritualist, he was first buried in an upright position in the garden of his home at Crowborough in East Sussex in 1930. His second wife was buried alongside him ten years later. Waning family fortunes led to the sale of the house, but the graves remained until 1955 when the family decided to fulfil Lady Jean's original wish that they be buried together at All Saints. So early one morning a double lead casket containing the remains of Sir Arthur and Lady Jean was delivered to the churchyard. A huge double grave had been dug all the previous day. After a short private ceremony the couple were laid - horizontally - to rest, and a public announcement was made about who had arrived.

Conan Doyle's interest in spiritualism was a mild embarrassment to the Church. Ever prepared to compromise, the Church of England agreed he could come to the churchyard - but buried his remains by the far boundary. Perhaps the Almighty had stronger views? The oak tree over the grave still bears the scars of being struck by lightening twice - the last time in 1969. Whether this was a sign of approval or displeasure has yet to be revealed .....

All Saints' Church, Minstead, New Forest. Photography by Geoff Roberts.

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