Registered Charity

The FOBLC is recognised by HMRC as a charity, ref. XT38745, and is a member of the National Federation of Cemetery Friends

For all enquiries please contact our Chairman


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"The Island" Transformed

On the weekend of 14th & 15th March 2020, a group of five volunteers from the Friends' group re-kerbed what has become known as "The Island" in Ladywell Cemetery.  This originally was an ornamental oval which had become overgrown.  With the agreement of Bereavement Services, the Friends volunteers have worked on this site for three or so years cutting back, digging over the soil, weeding and now re-kerbing the edge, using the edging slabs already there.  The project was conceived by Mick Martin, who has been assisted on occasions by other members of the Friends' group. The next stage is to introduce some more shrubs and other planting.

Finished work

Group working

Island last autumn


Beatrice Offor in her studio ( 1902)

Nestling under a shady canopy of bush aside one of the inner pathways in Ladywell cemetery lies the final resting place of Sydenham born artist, Beatrice Offor (the headstone denotes a Beatrice Beavan, beloved second wife of James Philip Beavan, of 8 Bruce Grove, Tottenham). Beatrice, having studied at Tudor Hall Boarding School, Forest Hill, then trained at the famous Slade School of Art (founded in 1871) where she became a close friends of Moina Mathers (the sister of French philosopher Henri Bergson, the first man of Jewish descent to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927) and Annie Horniman (Horniman Tea Heiress) and they shared a studio together on Fitzroy Road, London. Moina was also one of the founders of the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn, part of the 'occult revival' of the late Victorian period, an association which influenced some of Beatrice's more esoteric paintings (ie The Crystal Gazer). In 1892, Beatrice married her first husband, Irish painter and sculptor, William Farran Littler and the couple lived in Chelsea and exhibited from their King's Road Studio address. He died in Banstead Asylum from 'Chronic Brain Disease' in 1899 after the tragic early deaths of their two sons, Ralph (1894) and Eric (1896). Their grave lies in an adjoining burial plot. She married again in 1907 to James Philip Beavan, a Colonial Fruit Importer and moved to Bruce Grove, Tottenham.  James was a widower and local Alderman with four children.

Much of her artistic work consisted of representations of heads of young women. A report published in the same year said that: The famous "Offor Heads" are known the world over. Indeed, it may be said that Miss Beatrice Offor is one of the most popular artists of the day, her pictures are eagerly sought after, and publishers vie with one another for the honour of giving her works to the public.' Her paintings regularly showed at the Royal Academy of Arts and she often used her sisters as models. Sadly her health deteriorated and in August 1920 she threw herself to her death from her bedroom window: it is said that she thought she was losing her talent. A verdict of suicide while of unsound mind was later returned at the inquest. Forty paintings and one sculpture were bequeathed to Bruce Castle Museum in 1937 and form the largest collection of her work in this country. Her work lives on at Bruce Castle Museum and this centenary conference and exhibition will once again hopefully provide an unmissable space for her many admirers, followers and those new to her work, an opportunity to discover afresh more of this often overlooked but wonderfully talented artist who gave so much of her life to her painting and is now being properly recognised in the centenary year of her untimely death.

Beatrice's headstone in Ladywell cemetery courtesy of Phillip Barnes -Warden

A forthcoming centenary exhibition about Beatrice Offor at Bruce Castle Museum.

Centenary Exhibition of Portraits by Beatrice Offor 21 March until September 2020

There will be a launch on 21 March –  The doors open at 1.30pm with speeches from 2pm from Dr Jan Marsh of the National Portrait Gallery. 

Given the challenging times we are now facing, following the government’s announcement on Monday, the decision has been made by the council that sadly we will now be cancelling or postponing all our events at the museum until the autumn

There is also a morning conference prior to the launch. We require booking for this (free) – doors open at 10am, with 4 half hour talks on Beatrice Offor from 10.30am to 12.30pm. Speakers include Dr Alan Walker (researcher, Florida State University - London), Dr Charlotte de Mille (Courtauld Institute), Geraldine Beskin (researcher and The Atlantis Bookshop), and Deborah Hedgecock, as curator of the collection:

Commemorating the centenary of artist Beatrice Offor (1864-1920) who lived in Tottenham, this exhibition explores her beautiful portraits and the imaginings and portrayals of the women she painted. Bringing together her artworks from the collections at Bruce Castle Museum alongside recently discovered paintings, this exhibition draws on new research, the influences in her life and the recent invigorated interest in her art. Beatrice Offor is celebrated as being amongst the first women students who trained at The Slade, going on to become one of the few commercially-successful Edwardian female artists

CADS, CLERICS & CAPTAINS - Free guided walk on Sunday 23rd February at 2.00pm


Free guided walk on Sunday 23rd February at 2.00pm (meet at the Ladywell cemetery entrance)
(Originally scheduled for 16th but postponed due to weather)
Led by Mike Guilfoyle (Vice -Chair Foblc)

All welcome

The walk will last for around 1.5 hours and focus on some of the illustrious (and ill -famed !) deceased buried in this small part of Ladywell cemetery

German revolutionary poet Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810 – 1876) a close friend of Karl Marx

Polish Underground Leader Mieczyslaw Thugutt (1902- 1979) Sent Friend a Food Parcel in Auschwitz With Tragic Consequences

Located in the former Roman Catholic section of Brockley cemetery near to the Brockley road boundary lies the Thugutt Family grave. There is a small presence of graves from the Polish diaspora within this area of the cemetery. When Mieczyslaw Thugutt died in exile at Wickham Road, Brockley aged 76, his ashes were interred here.

Mieczyslaw Thugutt (1902- 1979) Polish Underground leader

Mieczyslaw Thugutt trained as a mechanical engineer and was the son of the famous peasant leader and social activist, Stanisław Thugutt, who served as a soldier in the famed Polish Legions in the First World War and later became Vice -Prime Minister of Poland before escaping into exile to Sweden after the German Invasion of 1939. During World War II,  Mieczyslaw was also exiled in Sweden and after his father's death in 1941. He travelled to London and mediated between the Polish government-in-exile based in the capital and the underground movement in Poland. In 1942 he helped to supervise clandestine radio broadcasts codeword ' Swit' ( Dawn)  from Great Britain to occupied Poland.  He refused to return to Communist led Poland after the Second World War becoming politically active in Polish emigre politics until ill -health resulted in his death in 1979.

During a  Commission for the Investigation of German War Crimes held in Warsaw in 1948 a tragic story from an eyewitness emerged on the fate of one of Mieczyslaw's close school friends , Stanisław Dubois. Following his arrest as part of the polish resistance movement in Warsaw in 1940 he was transported to Auschwitz -Birkenau Camp. During an interrogation , he was asked if he knew Mieczysław Thugutt – he answered that he was his friend from school. Finally, he heard that Mieczysław Thugutt had sent him a food parcel and it was given to him. Prisoners were not allowed to receive parcels at the time. One-kilogram parcels were only allowed in December 1942. The interrogating Gestapo officer had all of Dubois’s personal files and treated him brutally. On Monday, 22 August 1942 , two SS men from the Political Department called out his number and took him from his workplace. They led him to block 11. The prisoners of the hospital block 21 saw Dubois passing by, he even smiled and waved his hand goodbye. He was walked into the baths, where the prisoners always had to undress completely before an execution. That’s where two Leichenträgers (prisoners used for carrying corpses) saw him. I learned from them that Stanisław Dubois, brought onto the yard without his clothes, a moment before he was hit by the bullet, shouted: “Poland is not yet lost.” Dubois was executed by being shot him in the back of his head with an automatic rifle.

Wondering what caused the death of Stanisław Dubois, the eyewitness came to the conclusion that the food parcel that came from Mieczyslaw Thugutt (then in exile in Stockholm), with Dubois’s name and the number assigned to him, was the reason for which Dubois was executed.
Zakopane, L to R, Stanisław Dubois, Stefan Korbonski & Mieczyslaw Thugutt
Mieczyslaw is also referenced in the recent remarkable book on Witold Pilecki , The heroic Polish Resistance leader and escapee from Auschwitz who in a another tragic twist of fate was executed in the same brutal manner in 1948 by the Communist Government for amongst other charges espionage for "foreign imperialism" (British intelligence)-

The Volunteer: One Man's Mission to Lead an Underground Army Inside Auschwitz and Stop the Holocaust ( 2019 ) Author, Jack Fairweather.

Mieczyslaw Thugutt will feature as one of the lives in the forthcoming  'A third brief biographical guide to thirty of the illustrious deceased buried in Brockley and Ladywell cemeteries' due to be published in May 2020 by Mike Guilfoyle Vice-Chair : Foblc.

Victorian Comic performer John Baldwin Buckstone is the star of the final episode of the first series of podcasts by Mike Guilfoyle

John Baldwin Buckstone

John Baldwin Buckstone enjoyed enormous fame at the height of his career - an adored comic performer, a great friend of Dickens, a prolific writer for the stage and a successful impresario - but his gravestone was paid for by donations from close friends who had seen his fortunes dwindle. Learn about the remarkable career of this giant of the Victorian stage in this final episode of the first series of London Epitaphs. Brought to you by Tempest Productions