On Friday 13th September 2019, the grave of William ‘Bendigo’ Thompson was cleaned and restored by specialists from AW Lymn The Craftsmen in Stone. The memorial over Bendigo’s grave is approximately 130 years old and has weathered, meaning some of the lettering on the inscription is missing. It has an impressive stone lion which lies prone over the top of the rectangular plinth.
The grave is at St Marys Rest Garden on Bath Street, and is very close to where AW Lymn Funeral Service are situated, The Bendigo Memorial Fund were very grateful for their offer to clean and restore it.
Set in a quiet park with a bench nearby, Bendigo’s grave is a well-respected local landmark. The grave is not visible from the road and is often ‘discovered’ by people using the path through the park.
In 2013, Bendigo was featured in a publication by the Loudspeaker Project. The project encouraged vulnerable women to write letters about things that helped them and gave them comfort. A series of these letters were published by www.changing-lives.org.uk. Here is the letter about Bendigo.
Dear Bendigo, I first met you, Bendigo the Lion, when I was 7 years old. I have been visiting your grave ever since, I am now 42. Whenever I felt sad and lonely I would talk to you about all my problems. Whenever I was with you, you gave me strength and love and safeness. In life always brave, fighting like a lion… In death like a lamb, tranquil in Zion. I never knew you were a famous bare knuckle fighter born in 1811. You fought to take care of your family but fell into drinking and came out of that seeing the light, becoming a tee-total priest of Nottingham. Subconsciously Bendigo, I choose you, the strongest and nicest guy of Nottingham, to talk to. Maxine x
Ben Percival, General Manager at AW Lymn The Craftsmen in Stone said,
“As always it is a pleasure to get involved with local projects and give something back to the community”.
Alan Dawson of the Bendigo Memorial Fund said:
“It has been great to get to know and speak to the staff at AW Lymn about Bendigo. We share a lot of history in the area. Lymns started out in 1907, and this was the time that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his famous poem Bendigo’s Sermon. Their offer to maintain his grave is a fantastic gesture.”
The missing letters on the grave cannot be renewed due to the stone having worn down. In conjunction with Ben from The Craftsmen in Stone and the Conservation Officer at Nottingham City Council, the next discussion will be whether to add a new slate bearing the full inscription.
We are also making enquiries with the company that created the original memorial on Bendigo’s grave. They are still trading under the original name of GH Linnell in Grantham, having started out in 1860.
Thanks for reading this update and best wishes.
The Trustees ( Alan and Ryan)