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Elephant Man’s unmarked grave ‘found’ in London cemetery

Email Elephant Man Joseph Merrick's unmarked grave 'found' by author

Posted May 06, 2019 10:51:44

Joseph Merrick Photo: Joseph Merrick was shown in travelling exhibitions as The Elephant Man. (Supplied) Map: United Kingdom

A British author has claimed to have tracked down the unmarked grave of The Elephant Man, Joseph Merrick.

Key points:

  • Merrick's skeleton is displayed at the Royal London Hospital Archives and Museum for medical research
  • But the location of his soft tissue remains has not been officially marked
  • Ms Vigor-Mungovin said she was "99 per cent" certain the grave is Merrick's

Merrick's skeleton has been displayed at the Royal London Hospital Archives and Museum since his death at the age of 27 in 1890.

But author Joanne Vigor-Mungovin claims his soft tissue remains were buried at the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium after Merrick's body was dissected.

Ms Vigor-Mungovin, who has penned a book about Merrick's life, said she located the grave after finding his burial record in the cemetery's registry, posting an image of plot on Twitter.

She told the BBC she began searching the cemetery's records on the basis that he died in the same local area as two Jack the Ripper victims who are buried there.

"I decided to search in an eight-week window around the time of his death and there, on page two, was Joseph Merrick," Ms Vigor-Mungovin said.

External Link: Tweet: Jo Vigor-Mungovin @Berliozjo Today after weeks of emails, research & visits to the #CityofLondonCemetery the final resting place of #JosephMerrick has been located. His bones are @BHAandM for medical purposes but his flesh/remains were buried in consecrated ground after a small service. #Leicester R.I.P

She said the location of his grave was hard to track down, as Victorian London had many cemeteries, but she was "99 per cent certain" the grave was Merrick's.

"The burial is dated April 24, 1890, and Joseph died on April 11," she said.

the bones of Joseph Merrick Photo: Joseph Merrick's bones are held in a glass case at the Queen Mary University of London. (Royal London Hospital)

"It gives his residence as London Hospital, his age as 28 — Joseph was actually 27 but his date of birth was often given wrong — and the coroner as Wynne Baxter, who we know conducted Joseph's inquest.

"Everything fits, it is too much to be a coincidence."

Merrick's skeletal and soft tissue deformities began developing when he was five years old.

He went on to be exhibited in a travelling show, billed as The Elephant Man, before coming into the care of surgeon Frederick Treves towards the end of his life.

Several books, stage shows and a film, starring John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins, brought Merrick's life story and struggles to international prominence in the 20th century.

Ms Vigor-Mungovin said a memorial plaque would be placed at the plot, bearing Merrick's name along with his date of birth and death.

"I hope people now know Joseph had a burial service and is in [consecrated] ground," she wrote on Twitter.

The City of London Cemetery has not publicly commented on Ms Vigor-Mungovin's claim.

Topics: human-interest, medical-history, health, united-kingdom

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