August 25, 2020

Burslem were honoured to be commissioned recently to restore and add a new tablet to a memorial to the UK’s first female editor of a national newspaper, Rachel Beer.

Rachel Beer Memorial Burslem Before Work

Rachel Beer’s memorial before Burslem’s renovation work

Rachel Beer, who died in Tunbridge Wells in 1927, was the editor of The Sunday Times and The Observer in the 1890s, during a time when women were banned from the parliamentary press gallery and could not vote. Rachel became the owner and editor of the Sunday Times in 1893 after it was purchased by her husband, industrialist Frederick Beer.

Ann Treneman, Times columnist and author of the book ‘Finding the Plot: 100 Graves to Visit Before You Die’, led the project after discovering that Rachel’s unassuming, unkempt headstone only included her date of death in 1927, and that she was the daughter of businessman David Sassoon.

Ann said: “I was struck by how virtually anonymous it was and I thought for the first female editor of a national newspaper to have on her epitaph that she was the daughter of someone wasn’t telling the whole story, to put it lightly.”

In contrast, Rachel’s husband is buried in a huge mausoleum in Highgate Cemetery.

Rachel Beer Memorial Burslem Tunbridge Wells Cemetery

Rachel’s Beer’s memorial after renovation & addition of tablet with hand-cut inscription by Burslem

The newspapers that Rachel edited in the 1890s, The Observer and the Sunday Times, agreed to pay for the project,  and Ann approached the Burslem team to ask if they could restore and add to the existing memorial.

The renovation project included the existing headstone being cleaned and restored and a new Carrara marble tablet being produced with the hand-cut inscription: “Rachel Beer, editor of The Observer and The Sunday Times in the 1890s. The first female editor of a national newspaper.”

Ann said: “It now looks really striking. I feel that people will see that she did something that we should note and that we are proud of. It’s been a long process but I have to say, I’m really pleased. It really has been a quest and I feel very proud.”

Rachel Beer memorial Burslem marble tablet Tunbridge Wells Cemetery