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19th-century memorial to pair of Hornsey servants discovered in Muswell Hill garden

PUBLISHED: 13:14 21 September 2020 | UPDATED: 14:42 21 September 2020

Victoria Midwinter, who found the the 'Faithful Servants' memorial behind the shed in her Muswell Hill garden. Picture: Victoria Midwinter

Victoria Midwinter, who found the the 'Faithful Servants' memorial behind the shed in her Muswell Hill garden. Picture: Victoria Midwinter

Archant

An early 19th-century marble memorial to two Hornsey servants discovered in a Muswell Hill garden will be returned “home” to St Mary’s Tower.

The inscription of the plaque. Picture: Peter SandersThe inscription of the plaque. Picture: Peter Sanders

The centuries-old plaque was recovered behind the garden shed of a house in Halliwick Road in 2001, approximately 200 years after it was engraved.

As the memorial was originally part of St Mary’s Parish Church – which was demolished in 1969 – the memorial will be reinstalled inside its remaining church tower in Hornsey High Street.

Victoria Midwinter, who made the garden discovery, told the Ham&High: “When I heard it was going to be hung in St Mary’s Tower I was thrilled.

“It is the closest thing to being returned to its original home. I am so pleased people will get a chance to see it and think about these two hard-working women.

The proposed installation of the marble tablet on the church tower's internal flank wall to the turret stairs. Picture: Peter SandersThe proposed installation of the marble tablet on the church tower's internal flank wall to the turret stairs. Picture: Peter Sanders

“I love the fact that they are named and remembered, unlike so many women of the period and I wish I knew more of their story.”

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In its inscription, the memorial marks the death of Mary Parsons, 85, in 1806 – a “diligent, faithful and affectionate servant”.

Below Mary, it marks her friend Elizabeth Decker, 75, who worked for the same Hornsey family for 47 years and died in 1809.

John Hinshelwood, a researcher from the Hornsey Historical Society who runs monthly sessions for local residents, has dug into the story behind the ‘Two Faithful Servants’.

While little is known about Elizabeth, John found out that Mary was widowed and that an abstract of her will, where she left £350 in trust, can be found in the National Archives.

John called it “quite unusual” that a historic tablet from the early 1800s would survive in someone’s back garden and that the plaque was being rightfully returned to its original home.

Fr Bruce Batstone, Rector of Hornsey, said: “The Faithful Servants Memorial, celebrating the contribution of Mary Parsons and Elizabeth Decker in the nineteenth century, is an encouragement to those who serve Hornsey and its community today, and we are delighted to welcome it home.”

The memorial will be erected in St Mary’s Tower during the autumn, once permissions are granted.

READ MORE: The forgotten grave of a Highgate mistress and her former slave


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