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

Friday 12 July 2013

The Angel of Cookham - George Pendrill, Arthur Reed Louch, and William Louch

The Angel Cookham Churchyard
(c) Nicola Carpenter 2012

Angel monument to George Pendrill, Arthur Reed Louch and William Louch, Holy Trinity Churchyard, Cookham Berkshire.

"To The Memory Of - George Pendrill who died at Sutton Courtney, Berks July 8th 1890 aged 34 years.  Also of Arthur Reed Louch third son of the late Henry Louch Esq of Poplar London.  Who died at Sutton Courntey, Berks.  November 1st 1897 aged 58 years.  Also of William Louch twin brother of Arthur Reed Louch who died at Sutton Courtney, Berks June 8th 1901"

Arthur Reed and William Louch were born on 17th June 1839 in Poplar London to Henry, a ropemaker and Anna Louch nee Masterman.  On the 1841 Census they're shown living with their parents and sisters Ellen Masterman Louch and Ada Reed Louch at Manor Cottage, Poplar London.  Henry Louch was to die in 1848 and the family rope making business dissolved by his widow and son Henry Louch in 1859.

"NOTICE is hereby given, that the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned. Anna Louch, Henry Louch, and John Thompson, under the firm of Reed, Louch Brothers, and Thompson, at Love-lane, Shadwell, in the county of Middlesex, Rope Makers, has been dissolved by mutual consent, so far as regards the undersigned
John Thompson.—Dated the 27th day of December,
1859.  Anna Louch.  Henry Louch.  John Thompson."

In 1851 both Arthur and William were attending a boarding school in George Lane Woodford Essex.  Arthur and William split briefly in 1861 when Arthur was serving on a vessel in Pembrokeshire as an engineer and William, now a civil engineer was boarding with a Samuel Grey in Swindon GWR railway village, built by Brunel to help house the many railway workers and their families.  However in 1862 they can be found both serving in the Wiltshire Rifle Volunteer Corps 11th Company, Arthur as a Lieutenant and William as an Ensign.

On 24th November 1859 Arthur and William's sister Ada Reed Louch married John Henry Skilbeck, a Drysalter from Lea Bridge in Hackney, London.  Drysalters were dealers in a range of chemicals, including glue, varnish, dye, and colourings.  Ada's brother Henry and sister Louisa were witnesses to the marriage.

In 1871 Arthur and William were back living with their mother Anna and sister Louisa at The Elms in Hackney.  Both Arthur and William are listed as being ropemakers. 

In 1881 Arthur and William have moved to Great Marlow and are living at Quarry Chalk Pits House along with George Pendrill.  Arthur and William are again listed as engineers and George is an Engine driver.  George James Pendrill was born on 1st June 1856 in Rotherhithe Surrey to James a barge builder and Caroline Rachel Pendrill nee Gorsuch.

On Saturday 12th July 1890 the Grantham Journal reported:

"Shocking Boiler Explosion

While a gentleman named Louch, and a party, were on the Thames on Tuesday afternoon, on a steam launch, at Sutton Courtney, near Abingdon, the boiler burst with a terrific explosion. George Pendrill, the driver, was blown into the water, and his dead body was found shortly afterwards.The owner of the launch and several others had a narrow escape, one gentleman being scolded. Mrs Skillbeck, of Hampstead, who, with her husband and two sons, was in a boat about the leave the launch, when the accident happened, jumped or fell into the water, and the exhaustion which followed produced syncope. The boiler was hurled some distance to the back of the launch, which foundered."

Syncope is a state of unconsciousness, one from which poor Ada Skilbeck never recovered.  She died a day later, leaving behind her husband John and sons Cuthbert and  Clement.

A inquiry was opened into the accident that had now claimed two lives and later on 31st July 1890 the paper reported: 

"31st July 1890.

A Neglectful Steam Launch Owner

Two Commissioners of the Board of Trade held and investigation, at Abingdon on Wednesday, into the fatal explosion of a steam launch on the Thames. Experts stated that the fire-box plates of the verticle boiler had in places worn away to the thiness of paper. Mr Arthur Louch, a retired engineer, was the owner of the launch, and had a narrow escape, being on board that the time of the explosion. The Commissioners found him guilty of neglect, and ordered him to pay £60 towards the cost of the inquiry."

1891 finds the brothers living together aged 49 at Milton House, the Green, Sutton Courtney in Abingdon, then Berkshire (now Oxon).  They're now listed as 'living on their own means'.

Sadly, the twin brothers were to be separated by death with Arthur dying in 1897 and William in 1901.  His brother's passing must has come as a shock to poor William, who had to get used to living without his twin for a further four years.  Perhaps it was the guilt and stress of the inquiry that hastened Arthur to his grave in 1897. I suspect as George died whilst in the employ of Arthur Louch and due to his negligence he took it upon himself to pay for George's burial, possibly in the plot already ear marked for himself and his brother.
The Angel in the churchyard of Holy Trinity in Cookham was to inspire Sir Stanley Spencer.  He painted a picture of The Angel with the church tower in the background in 1953

The Angel, Cookham Churchyard 1953

Sir Stanley Spencer looking at The Angel
in Cookham Churchyard


  1. I was interested in your research into the Louch brothers who share the grave in Cookham Churchyard with George Pendrill, who appears in my family tree. I began researching George several years ago and reached the same conclusion as you did that the Louch brothers felt guilt about George's death that they erected the magnificent memorial in Cookham churchyard. They attended the funeral as did his sisters. His mother had pre-deceased him.

    1. Beneath Thy Feet25 August 2015 at 07:20

      Thank you for your comment, Sue. It's always great to hear from people who are connected to those I have researched. I did actually try to find if there were any newspaper reports on the funeral at the time, but unfortunately drew a blank. I would be happy if you have any other information on George's early life that you could share.

  2. İ was walking thru graveyard and noticed a lot of big gravestones/status. This is one of them. İ took the photo of the subject grave and found this info thru google. İt is almost 133 years has gone but it burned my heart as new when i read the story. God bless them. RİP. God bless all of us.

  3. Also Sir Stanley Spencer grave stone under the tree , nearby (10-20 metre away) the angel status. RİP


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