Cemeteries and graveyards, full of love, betrayal, tragic deaths, murder and suicide. What will you find?...

Friday, 11 January 2013

Helen Irene Collins - Dunloran Park House

Taphophilia is a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries.

Monument to Helen Irene Collins, All Saints Churchyard, Bisham Berkshire.

"Helen Irene Collins.  10th February 1891.  8th October 1966."

The first thing that struck me about this gravestone was the simplicity of it.  Also looked and felt a lot like concrete

Helen Irene Collins was born on 10th February 1891in Chelsea London to Carteret Fitzgerald Collins, a Barrister at law and Geraldine Lucia Anne Leslie.

Helen seems to have enjoyed a privillaged childhood living at 20 Sloane Square in Chelsea, a very fashionable and affluent area of London.  At one time the family had 13 servants to take care of their every need.  As far as I can tell Helen never entered into employment as an occupation has never been listed for her.  Helen passed away on 8th October 1966 in Sussex aged 75 years.  I wonder how it is that she came to be buried in a Berkshire churchyard?

In 1874 Helen's grandfather Brenton Halliburton Collins bought Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.  On Brenton's death in 1924, ownership of Dunorlan Park passed to Carteret until his death in 1841 when the house passed to his eldest son Lieutenant Colonel Richard Leslie Halliburton Collins.  Between 1874 and 1941 the estate was opened to the public every winter so that they could skate on the frozen lake. 

Lieutenant Colonel Richard was called out of retirement to fight in the second World War, it was then that the house became vacant and was requisitioned for the war effort.  In the early years it was a billeting station for troops, who according to local tradition, were responsible for destroying the avenue of statues and the figures on the fountain by using them for target practice.  In 1943 the War Damage Commission took up residence and remained there for fourteen years.

 In November 1944, the Council purchased Dunorlan Park House, the grounds, including three farms and other various lands from Lieutent Colonel Richard at a price of £42000.

Another interesting note, Helen's father Carteret had a patent for, Improvements in or relating to dish and like washing machines.


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  1. Interesting that while she came from wealth, her marker is so simple.

  2. I would have thought the marker was much older, based on first appearances.

  3. It's quite a weathered stone considering it's not that old. I wonder what her life was like - lots of info about the men in her family, but little on the records for her it seems.

  4. Aunt (actually my great-aunt) Rene was buried in Bisham because she had been living nearby in Bisham Grange for many years...she remained a spinster because her 'boyfriend' had died during WW1.


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