The Pet Cemetery at Oatlands Park

In an effort to get to the bottom of the indecipherable tablets I saw on the graves in the Duchess of York’s pet cemetery at Oatland’s Park, I’ve been going through my old notes and found a magazine article from the late 1800’s that gives a fairly detailed report of the place. No wonder I thought I’d seen proper headstones on the graves – they are pictured in this same article from The Ludgate Monthly from 1897. I was not imagining things. The photo above shows what the pet cemetery looks like today. Follow this link for pictures of the original markers and the full story.

Question 1: I’d wager anything that there is not a single bone beneath any of these markers. If the graves have been moved from their original location and the headstones replaced, if in short nothing remains of the original cemetery, why go to the effort of erecting a poor facsimile of the cemetery and saying that it still exists?

Question 2: Why does this deception bother me so much?

Question 3: What’s worse than finding out there’s no Easter Bunny?

9 thoughts on “The Pet Cemetery at Oatlands Park”

  1. I can't manage to get inside the article or see the images, but I've read about it before.

    Question 1 – this is what I was trying to say in my comment on your article last Monday, when I said "I don't understand the point of displaying headstones which have been eroded to illegibility. They had historical interest, but surely only in situ if they were already illegible."

    Question 2 – it bothers me too. There is nothing left of the original – the original graves are lost, and even the memorials have been destroyed (by erosion over time, one assumes) – and yet there is a pretence that there is still some meaning to the gathering of these stones. I suspect your feelings are linked to the fact that the whole atmosphere of the original Oatlands has been lost now it's an hotel.

    Question 3 – that there's no Father Christmas?

  2. Bless your hearts for your comments. Joe – I think what gets me the most is that we aren't talking Elvis or the Unknown Soldier here. Why go to these lengths to fake pet graves? I mean, other than myself and few other Duchess diehards, I can't see that they attract hoardes of visitors. More importantly, if they are important enough to fake, then why didn't they simply leave the originals alone?

  3. Helena – Your comment last week was spot on. And if they were going to fake them, the least they could have done was to fake them properly! And just what do you mean there's not Father Christmas!? Next thing I know, you'll be telling me that Prinny never fought at Waterloo. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions all.

  4. Baroness – I didn't look for the grotto and am glad of the fact. One can only imagine what it's become – a sort of new age hamman with botox and acupuncture sessions available? Bah Humbug.

  5. I am of the opinion if the lady went to the trouble of burying and memorializing her pets their final resting place should have remained undisturbed save for the normal care a cemetery is given and the stones should have been preserved in what ever way possible. Faking a pet cemetery is simply disrespectful to the memory of the pets and what they meant to their owner.

    I have five acres of land and have a lovely spot set aside in what was once my horse pasture for my pets to lay in final rest. The first animal to be buried there was my nearly 30 year old horse, Taz, and he lies directly under a big oak tree under which he used to doze in his old age. There is quite a menagerie resting under that old tree now, including my 13 foot python. My brothers were horrified to discover I buried her. Apparently they'd hoped to get a belt or a pair of boots out of her. I am afraid once a creature has shared a home with me for over twenty years I don't turn them into clothing.

    Nor would I ever consider turning their last resting place into a tourist attraction.

  6. Louisa – Such a beautiful post. Thank you. And thanks to all who took the time to comment. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in my feels. I was beginning to think I was getting obsessive about it all!

  7. I saw the Oatlands pet graves recently (summer 2014). One stone says "Craft" on it – still q. legible. (And there are special cameras that can read worn stone and 'see' more than the naked eye.) The Duchess of York once wrote a poem, or epitaph, that refers to one of her dogs as "Satan". Weybridge, until recently, used to have a museum: Elmbridge Museum. Years ago I remember seeing a small, white stuffed dog in its collection that had belonged to the Duchess. Kept under a glass dome, like an old clock. I am told that the contents of the Weybridge museum have been sent to the one in Esher. TMW

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