The story so far....
Sally Platts called at our stand on carnival day to tell us about a series of marble plaques on the floor of her greenhouse.
The greenhouse, in the grounds of “Beggers Roost”, her bungalow on Morley Lane, was being demolished when the plaques came to light.
One of the plaques has an inscription in Latin, a rough translation reads,
“In memory of Henry Acton, Headmaster of Saint Dunstan School, died on fourth day of March 1879” (We cannot translate last line at present.)
So who was Henry Acton?
Some research into various records has revealed that Henry Acton was born in 1850 to Henry and Elizabeth Acton in Lichfield.
He was baptised on 3rd of March 1850 probably at St. Michael’s Church in Lichfield as his parents lived in St. Michael’s area of Lichfield.
His parents were Henry Acton (a shoemaker) and Elizabeth Acton
In 1861 he was living with his parents and four siblings in Lichfield.
By 1871 Henry was training to be a schoolmaster in Saltley, Warwickshire and Aston, Birmingham.
He became schoolmaster and organist at St. Dunstan’s School on Osmaston Road in Derby and later was Headmaster.
St. Dunstan’s School closed we think in about 1960 but the building is still there today. (see photo). It is opposite Cotton Lane on Osmaston Road, Derby.
Henry was probably organist at St. Andrews Church, Litchurch, Derby before it was demolished.
He died at Lichfield March 12th 1879, aged 29 years and we are pretty sure he is buried in Lichfield although the record is for St. Andrews Church, Litchurch, Derby.
His death is registered as follows...
So how did his memorial end up in Little Eaton on the floor of a greenhouse?
Well, we were contacted by Jean Pugh from the Yorkshire Dales via email. Jean had seen our post on Facebook and it instantly stirred a memory and wrote the following-
“It's over 50 years since I was in my grandma's greenhouse but even before I read your post the photo rang a bell.
Whereabouts in Little Eaton is or was the greenhouse, my grandma lived on Morley Lane in a bungalow built by my grandparents in the 1930's, the greenhouse was built around the same time and had all the mod cons including central heating.
If this is the same greenhouse we may be able to find out more, I know a cousin has photos of the bungalow being build. To me and my sisters 50 years ago the floor was just something that had always been there, now we would be more curious.
“My sister Diane also thinks Grandad got the marble from a reclamation yard and would have thought the memorial perfect. He was a perfectionist as anyone who has seen inside the bungalow will know as long as it still has its wood panelling and wood block floors. Even though it was built in the 1930's it was very 'Arts and Crafts'. Grandad was a partner in a joinery business in Derby, they made furniture, there was an article in Derby Evening Telegraph about the business a few years ago, Lyn may still have a copy or perhaps it could be found online.
The garden was a wonderland to 3 young sisters (4th one came along later).”
Henry Acton had no direct connection to Little Eaton as far as we can see, but this story is fascinating, none the less. Maybe one day we will find out where the memorial was originally sited and why it was removed.
Incidentally the memorial was already in the greenhouse before St. Andrews Church was demolished.
Burials in the Parish of St. Andrews, Litchurch in the County of Derby in the year One thousand eight hundred and sixty nine to seventy nine.
If Henry was buried in Lichfield it is possible there was a memorial plaque at either St. Andrews Church, Derby or at St.Dunstan's School.
Many thanks to Sally Platts, Jean Pugh and her relations for their help with this article.