George Kett (1809 – 1872) of Wymondham, Norfolk was a skilled carpenter and wood carver. In the late 1830s, he was employed on the restoration of Norwich cathedral, where he met the young James Rattee, with whom he later set up the Cambridge architectural masonry company Rattee & Kett.
He moved to London with his wife Sarah (née Lincoln, also from Wymondham) and five children – George, Joanna, Edmund and twins William and Alfred – to work on the interiors and furnishings of the new Palace of Westminster under architect and designer Augustus Pugin. Pugin was said to be so pleased with Kett’s finely detailed work that he chose him to carve the royal coat of arms in the Chamber of the House of Lords.
Starting the business
By 1848, Kett had moved to Cambridge to set up an architectural wood and stone carving business with James Rattee, who was now renowned locally as a highly skilled wood and stone craftsman. Their company was originally known as the Wood and Stone Carving Works, Cambridge, though its name was quickly changed to Rattee & Kett. The company operated from substantial premises on Station Road, with offices, stone works, a joinery and a builder’s yard adjoining James Rattee’s house, Poplar Cottage.
George, Sarah, their seven children (with new additions Susannah, born 1846 in London, and Frederick, born 1848 in Cambridge) and maternal grandmother lived in a house in Petersfield, off East Road.
The company flourished and Kett took over the responsibility of running it after the sudden death of James Rattee, at the age of 34, in 1855.
George Kett himself died in 1872, at the age of 63. His wife Sarah, who outlived him by 13 years, youngest son Frederick James who died in 1916, and youngest daughter Susannah Elizabeth, who died in 1941, are also buried in the tomb.
This intricately carved monument was made by Rattee & Kett out of white marble, with green marble insets. It consists of a decorated headstone and plinth, on which lies a full-length cross finely carved with leaves, flowers and a crown. The headstone is topped by a quatrefoil, inset with a elaborate ribbon carved in relief, with an inscription around the edge which says: ‘I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, Amen.’ The tomb forms a group with the other listed Kett, Rattee and Moyes graves nearby.