T. E. Brown's grave restored

Thu, 09 Aug 2018

restored grave - work by Simon Ashwell Stone Man
restored grave - work by Simon Ashwell Stone Man

The grave of T. E. Brown, the Manx National Poet, has been spectacularly restored thanks to the combined efforts of Culture Vannin and Manx National Heritage.

Situated far from his homeland in the Isle of Man, the poet’s grave in Bristol had lain untended for decades. The grave had become blackened and the text almost illegible. But this has now all changed thanks to some photographs sent to Culture Vannin last year.

‘We were shocked to see the pictures of the grave,’ said James Franklin, Online and Educational Resources Officer at Culture Vannin. ‘It was not how anyone in the Isle of Man would want the site to look, so there was no question that we had to do something about it.’

The photographs had been taken by Gerry Nichols of Bristol at the request of John Qualtrough, who had been inspired to investigate the state of the site by T. E. Brown expert, Dollin Kelly. Once Culture Vannin received the pictures, the Manx cultural charity then started a conversation with Manx National Heritage, who agreed to work together to enable the restoration.

Edmund Southworth, Director of Manx National Heritage said:

“Manx National Heritage is pleased to support the restoration of T.E. Brown’s final resting place.  This is a fitting tribute to a proud Manxman, who was born in Douglas and grew up in Braddan and Castletown, before studying at Oxford University. 

Known as our National Poet, T.E. Brown was a prolific writer.  He published four books in his lifetime, with his work inspired by his island home and the characters he knew. 

Many examples of T. E. Brown’s work survive in the Manx National Collections at the Manx Museum Library, where we hold an extensive permanent record of his work and lifetime achievements.”

The work was completed last week by the local monumental stonemason, Simon Ashwell, of Stone Man. It was he who supplied the ‘After’ picture shown here. It shows how a straightforward clean by a specialist can make a startling difference.

‘We were amazed at the change,’ said James Franklin. ‘The site is now one fitting to a personas important to the Isle of Man as T. E. Brown is, both as a historical figure and as a poet whose works continue to act a vital force for Manx imaginations today.’

Best known for the ‘Fo’c’s’le Yarns’ series of Manx dialect poems, most notably ‘Betsy Lee’, Brown died in October 1897 when visiting his workplace of nearly 30 years, Clifton College. Following his own wishes, he joined his beloved wife and son in the Redlands Cemetery nearby.

Culture Vannin hopes that Manx people will continue to visit the grave to pay their respects to the National Poet.

To discover more about T. E. Brown, visit the Manx Museum in Douglas. 

Free access to his complete works is also available on the ManxLiterature.com website, which is administered by Culture Vannin.


The grave before work was undertaken (photo: Gerry Nichols)