CFHS code : AG36

Parish : St Andrew the Great

Inscription : In Loving Memory of my dear husband ALFRED BROWN d Feb 19 1920 age 56 also of EMILY ANN BROWN d Dec 1[3] 1940 age 76

Monument : Pillar

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.202650, 0.13713668 – click here for location

Alfred Brown
Alfred Brown
Alfred Brown as a young man
Alfred Brown as a young man

This is the story of the search for the grave of my wife’s great-grandfather, Alfred Brown, who died in 1920 after making his fortune as a cab proprietor, and his wife Emily Ann Brown, who died n 1940.

It all started with a need to retrieve some papers from the attic, examination of which produced an album containing photographs of my wife’s immediate ancestors. Under each photograph was a pencilled note of the name and relationship of the sitter to my wife’s mother (now deceased). One photograph stood out because it also had a note that the sitter was interred in Mill Road Cemetery, and we remembered from previous family discussions that great-grandfather had purchased a burial plot for himself and his wife there, and had it brick-lined. We decided it would be a good idea to find the grave, because it presented a real link between the past and present, which modern cremation does not.

Brown family wedding
Brown family wedding

First visit

Although I had lived in Cambridge all my life (over 80 years), I’d never visited the cemetery before. A first visit was made using information that my brother sent me, which he had taken from the CD-Rom of the Survey of Monumental Inscriptions carried out in 2001 by Cambridge Family History Society. It told us we should look for a ‘pillar’. Drizzling rain did not help and we were unsuccessful. However, a passerby told us that the cemetery was shared by several parish churches which each had their own burial area, so we decided to do some research to find the right parish plot.

A second visit the following day, looking for descriptions of adjoining memorials and using a parish plan of the cemetery as a guide, was equally unsuccessful. There followed a visit to the Cambridgeshire Archives at Shire Hall, Cambridge, where thanks to the efforts of the staff, much was revealed. Alfred Brown lived in Abbey Road, off Newmarket Road, in the parish of St Andrew the Less; he was married at Benedict’s church; but he was buried in the area allocated to the parish of St Andrew the Great. A leather-bound, handwritten grave records book was brought out, which stated that his grave was in plot 36 ‘in the short row opposite the chapel door’.


Brown grave clearance
Brown grave clearance
The grave is revealed
The monument is revealed

This was the clue we needed. Yet a third visit to the cemetery was almost unsuccessful until my granddaughter identified a row of graves and my daughter burrowed under a very large ivy bush which covered several of them – the second grave she found was that of Alfred Brown. During several more visits the layers of ivy were cut back to reveal a very imposing memorial consisting of a cross on a podium in dark grey rough granite with a light grey kerb surround. The ivy bushes were very big indeed and it is no wonder that the Survey got it wrong.

Clearance of the grave has enabled it to be smartened up and filled with matching granite chippings. It is now a fitting tribute to the great-grandparents, who in their lifetimes left substantial legacies. Alfred Brown is listed originally as a coach builder and later as a cab proprietor in which business he made his fortune. He was always keen to invest in property and built his own house in Abbey Road with three garages for his horse-drawn cabs.

Extensive research has not revealed why the grave was not in the expected plot.

The cleaned-up grave
The cleaned-up monument


By Dennis Rowlinson

Alfred Brown; Emily Ann Brown