A Personal story, by Feike van der Boom
My father worked for the Dutch Foreign Office at the Dutch Embassy in Madrid from 1947 till 1956. On October 16, 1950 my only brother died at the age of four. He was buried at the British Cemetery. I was 5 years old then.
After concluding my career as a senior building lawyer (PhD in building law at the Leiden University) at the age of 56, I went to The School of Fine Art and Design in Groningen and obtained my BFA in 2007 (at the age of 62). My final examination consisted of the presentation of four oil paintings (each 120 x 60 cm) about cemeteries. Two paintings of these show the British Cemetery as I found it about six years ago.
I am certain that you will be able to recognize the graves I painted. On the dark painting, called Dicky, the little marble stone of my brother Dicky’s grave is shown. The sun shines on the small white stone, giving it some light and warmth. During the process of working at the painting the atmosphere in the painting became darker and more gloomy, as if I felt that Death reigned there. After all those years it was a therapeutic healing for me to paint Dicky’s grave.
"Dicky" "British Cemetery Madrid"
Photographs from a private collection in Ciudad Real, Spain
The photographs below show a monument in the British Cemetery erected to commemorate Loftus Charles Otway (1812-1861). He had been British Plenipotentiary Minister of Britain to Mexico from 1858 to 1860. The lady in the picture is Otway's widow, Gertrudis Enríquez y Sequera (1825-1865) who remarried soon after her husband's death to Antonio Suárez de Peredo y Paredes, Conde del Valle de Orizaba. She died in Mexico not long after.
Two interesting points emerge. One is that the photographs are probably by Charles Clifford (1819-1863) whose memorial tablet is in the entrance archway of the Cemetery and whose work is of great importance in the history of photography.
The other interesting point is that in 1878 the family of Loftus Charles Otway had his remains removed to the imposing family vault in Highgate Cemetery in London where his father, General Sir William Loftus Otway (1785-1854) had been buried; however, the upper part of the monument in the photographs still stays in the British Cemetery in Madrid, though now sited in a different place.
Click on the links below to read and hear David Butler of the Cemetery Committee explaining some of the history of the cemetery
Historical account of the British Cemetery by David Butler. There is a list of names at the end of this document.
El Libro de Carlos Saguar (in Spanish).
A spring morning in the British Cemetery is about an event commemorating a great benefactor to the Cemetery, Mr Young.
Plan of the British Cemetery
Useful linksReportaje "Escenario Madrid" Necroturismo Noviembre 2012
The British Cemetery in the press
In Madrid - July 2009