Wednesday 28 October 2015

Henry Townsend, Boy Champion Long Distance Walker

When I came across this grave, I was so intrigued at the story recorded on the memorial. A real demonstration of a Father's love for his son. The memorial records the eight-year-old's prowess at long distance walking. The memorial is topped with a plaque that states: The Lad We Honour. At the base of the memorial, representations of medals and a large trophy he had won can be seen. I have yet to track down contemporary newspaper reports of his passing but I wonder if his pneumonia developed after walking a long distance in cold and wet conditions.

The inscription and the Father's words is inscribed across four panels:

Henry Townsend – Boy Champion

The Lad We Honour

In ever loving memory of Henry Townsend
The Boy Champion
Long Distance Walker
Who died of Pneumonia
October 17th, 1903 in his eighth year.
May the Influence of his sweet life lead many to a noble manhood

This wonderful boy, very early showed such a fondness for walking and other exercises, that at 8 years of age, he could walk from 6n to 21 miles without suffering the least fatigue. He was examined by Doctors Richmond, Boyd and Harris

The Companionship of my child has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life. Even now, when alone, I feel life is a dreary wilderness. The memory of that sweet life still cheers and helps me on. His affectionate father.

Though so young, he had a very fine sensitive nature, was a good friend, sincere in affection and fond of home and its association, he was always active, energetic and clever in so many ways.

Erected by Public Subscription


Billy Blue Eyes said...

No wonder he died so young, walking 21 miles is hard enough for an adult let alone an 8 year old

Erik Von Norden said...

You know, as much as I enjoy the written blog itself, the outstanding pictures really tie it all together. Keep up the good work.

Unknown said...

Our 1st cousin 4x removed was Benjamin Forrist Marsh, (1823-1834) He drowned aged 10, this is the sad poem on his gravestone.
In the cold stream my limbs were chilled
My blood with deadly horror thrilled
My feeble veins did cease to play
I fainted, sunk and dyed away
All means were tryed my life to save
But could not keep me from my grave,

i would love to see his grave in Minehead

Laurie said...

My apologies for not replying earlier. I have been ill for some months around the time you all commented.
Had this happened today, I think the authorities would have taken action against the father for subjecting the young child to such exertion.
Thank you. Now that I am feeling better, I intend to restart posting regularly again.
Thank you for recounting the epitaph for poor Benjamin. How awful!


Margaret Harvey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margaret Harvey said...
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Anonymous said...

A postcard photographs shows that the monument originally had a statue of Henry on top. No idea when it was removed.

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An illustrated look at the World of Graveyards and Cemeteries. There are many Stories behind the Stones that Stand in them. Who knows what we might find?


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