Tag Archives: cemetery

Brompton Cemetery Clean Up

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust  Clean-Up group are planning another day at Brompton Cemetery on Saturday November 11th for a tidy up of the sites we have worked on previously and to plant some bulbs on or very close to the graves.

We recently visited the cemetery for a recce and flowering bulbs have been purchased ready to plant.

We’ll provide tools and gloves once again with some forks and shovels too.

The meeting place will again be at the Fulham Road entrance of Brompton Cemetery at 11.00 am Saturday November 11th.

It will also provide an opportunity for those of you who have not yet had the chance to look at the Jack Whitley Memorial stone, laid recently.

We hope to see some of you then.

Newsletter Autumn 2017

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust Autumn Newsletter is now available.

Photo by Clive Howes/Chelsea FC

It covers the recent Annual General Meeting and election results; the date of the next Special General Meeting;  a report on the latest supporter issues and the unveiling of the Jack Whitley Memorial.

You can download the newsletter here:

Chelsea Supporters Trust Autumn Newsletter 2017

JACK WHITLEY MEMORIAL TO BE UNVEILED

On Saturday 30 September a short service will take place to mark the placing of a memorial stone on the grave of Jack Whitley at Brompton Cemetery. The grave for Whitley, who died in 1955, was previously unmarked and funding for the stone was raised by a crowdfunding campaign organised by the Chelsea Supporters Trust.

Before the unveiling ceremony, there will be a guided tour of Chelsea related graves at 11.00 am held by  Chelsea Historian Rick Glanvill.  If you want to go on the tour meet at the North Entrance to the Cemetery (nearest to West Brompton tube).

The ceremony to unveil the memorial and inscription will be held at at 12.00 pm at the grave. Everyone is welcome to attend both the tour and ceremony.

Jack Whitley’s grave can be found at the north-east corner of Brompton Cemetery and is a 5 minute walk from West Brompton station. The  74 and 430 bus’ stop just outside of the cemetery entrance.

Thanks to the remarkable generosity of Chelsea supporters – and those of other clubs, including Everton and Manchester United –  the target of £5,500 was raised within weeks.

Descendants of Jack were traced and several family members will be present at the service, as well as the match later that day against Manchester City, the special guests of Chelsea FC.

For almost half of his life Jack was a wonderful servant of Chelsea FC. He signed as a goalkeeper from Lincoln in 1907 and kept a clean sheet on his debut against Newcastle United 110 years ago this month – the new club’s first win in the top flight.

After retiring as a player in 1914 he became “Mr Chelsea”: the first team trainer, responsible for all areas of coaching and fitness, with a big role in player liaison and transfer negotiations. He was also trainer of the England team on several occasions – the de facto manager of the national side.

After 32 years at the Bridge, new manager Willie Birrell decided to freshen up the back room staff and Jack was let go in 1939. He eventually moved to Hertfordshire, where he was to die in 1955 – a few months after his beloved Blues won the league championship for the first time. Having committed so much of his life to the Stamford Bridge club it was fitting that he should be buried just across the tracks from the stadium – a fact that only came to light recently as a result of new research by official Chelsea historian Rick Glanvill. 

Jack has earned a unique distinction in Chelsea history. Not only did he serve the club for more than three decades, but he is the only known footballer to be buried at Brompton Cemetery.

The Royal Parks green-space, adjacent to Stamford Bridge, is also the final resting place of former directors, supporters, a chairman, and a manager of the club. All the graves there are tended by the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust’s cemetery clean-up group, run by Cliff Auger, and the Trust has overseen the process of placing a stone on the Whitley grave in conjunction with Glanvill.

Chelsea Supporters Trust Chairman, David Chidgey said: “We are proud to be associated with the campaign to provide a fitting memorial to Jack Whitley, a loyal servant of Chelsea FC. Furthermore we are very grateful for the generosity of Chelsea supporters who donated to the campaign so readily. It proves unquestionably that the bond between supporters and players remains as strong as ever.”

We would like to thank all those who kindly donated money towards the fund, whatever the amount, and express our gratitude to Milestone Memorials, Royal Parks, the Friends of Brompton Cemetery, and Chelsea FC, for helping to make this happen.

Click here for a breakdown of how the £5,500 was spent. 

The continued search for Chelsea FC’s heritage

Our firmly established Brompton clean up group reconvened on 8 October 2016 during another international break.  The intrepid gardeners gathered at the Fulham Road gates of Brompton Cemetery and did the rounds of the final resting places of Messrs Janes, Kirby, Maltby and Mears, tidying up around the plots and leaving them clear and accessible for visitors and fans of Chelsea FC interested in learning about our heritage.

But before leaving Brompton Cemetery we headed to an area near to the main entrance where we found the unmarked common grave of former Chelsea player Jack Whitley, Here we worked on marking the plot for further work to be carried out at a future date.
Jack was very loyal to the club, he first played as a goalkeeper in 1907 then worked as a trainer, dedicating over 30 years to Chelsea FC. Jack specifically requested to be buried near his beloved Stamford Bridge when he died in 1955.

Satisfied our work was done at Brompton, three of us headed off to a small village church in Hampshire, invited to tend to the grave of Chelsea ‘godfather’ Frederick Parker, the man who came up with the initial idea to create Chelsea Football Club.

A satisfactory days work, an ongoing project to keep our heritage alive so that fans present and future can learn about our club’s roots.

Our grateful thanks to gardening stalwarts Steve, Adrian and Debs, Cliff for his dedication to the project and Rick Glanvill for the research and the inspiration.

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Jack Whitley – in search of a loyal past Chelsea player

As part of our ongoing Brompton Cemetery clear up sessions and club heritage work, Rick Glanvill, Chelsea FC’s historian, has been finding out more about one particular past Chelsea player:

  • 11 April 1878 • Born Seacombe, Cheshire, England
  • Joined Chelsea aged 29 in 1907, having previously played for secretary-manager David Calderhead at Lincoln City.
  • Goalkeeper who kept a clean sheet in our first ever top flight victory. (Home to Newcastle 23 Sep 1907.)
  • Near omni-present for three seasons until the arrival of Jim Molyneux.
  • 138 appearances; 39 of them clean sheets.
  • Joined backroom staff as first team trainer in 1914, aged 36.
  • Travels with rest of team on ground-breaking South America tour as trainer and emergency goalkeeper.
  • Father-figure to generations of players over 25 years. When an injury occurred, his was the familiar figure running onto the pitch to treat them, his suit jacket tails flapping.
  • New manager Billy Birrell finally dispensed with Whitley’s services in May 1939 (along with fellow veteran trainers Jack Harrow and Charlie Harris).
  • Whitley served the club loyally from the age of 29 to 61.
  • In summer 2015 a chance rereading of the Albert Sewell book ‘Chelsea Champions!’ led official club historian Rick Glanvill to discover that Whitley was buried at Brompton Cemetery, a few months after the club won the league title for the first time in 1955.
  • Whitley had died in Hertfordshire aged 77, but had specifically requested to be interred next to his beloved Stamford Bridge. He was buried at the north end of Brompton Cemetery in an unmarked grave on 11 July 1955.

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We would love to track down next of kin. We know that Jack married twice: firstly to Ellen ‘Nellie’ Edwards in 1897; secondly, in 1942, to Winifred Jessica Farrington. He had at least three children from the first marriage: Nellie (1902-1983), Ruby (1915-2002) and another child who died young. Nellie married twice (first to tennis star Donald Butcher, then Chelsea footballer Albert Thain) but does not appear to have had children. Ruby also married twice, to Sidney Upton, then Leslie Keeble, and likewise appears not to have given birth.

Perhaps someone out there knew the Whitley family, or descendants, and has information to the contrary? We would love to hear it. Please contact us at enquiries@chelseasupporterstrust.com if you can add to the story.

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Return to Brompton Cemetery – 6 August 2016

On a blisteringly hot and sunny Saturday in August, we returned for our third visit to Brompton Cemetery to continue the great clear up work from previous visits.

Unfortunately, weeds and bramble have a nasty habit of growing back, so our first job was to remove the regrowth from the grave of Alfred Frederick Janes, landlord of the Rising Sun pub (now the Butcher’s Hook) where the decisive meeting to form Chelsea Football Club took place.

Our next stop was the final resting place of John Henry Maltby, a founding director of the club, present at that famous meeting in the Rising Sun. This was the first time the group have worked on this grave so there was plenty to do.  As with the Janes grave, a pathway has been created to the location so that visitors can access it quite easily.

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Our third port of call was the monument dedicated to the Mears family, very much a part of Chelsea’s history.  Here we cleared away alayer of red (don’t ask!) stones from inside a kerbed area, which allowed us to replace them with the first batch of blue shaded stone chippings. We plan to return to extend this decorative feature.

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Finally we dropped by at the final resting place of William Claude Kirby, who was Chelsea’s first Chairman, a position he held for 30 years. His headstone contains the fabulous inscription “The game is greater than the player”, wise words indeed!

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With grateful thanks to all who came along to help out; Lucy, Dan, Steve, Francis, Adrian, Debs, a special mention to Tim who provided home made sausage rolls and banana bread and to Cliff who has worked tirelessly to make the project the success it is, working with the Friends of Brompton Cemetery and club historian Rick Glanvill.

Don’t worry if you missed out this time, we will be returning on Saturday 3 September 2016, meeting at the Fulham Road gates at 11am.

You can download Rick’s informative guide to the Chelsea graves here:  Final Whistle: The Chelsea Football Club Trail at Brompton Cemetery

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Next Brompton Cemetery Clear Up Project Visit

The third outing of the CST-organised working party to tidy up Chelsea graves in Brompton Cemetery is at 11.00 on Saturday 6 August 2016.  As before, we will meet at the Fulham Road gates.  Both our previous sessions have been productive and enjoyable so if you are free, why not come along. Tools, gloves and a fine selection of biscuits and snacks are provided.

You can see how we got on at our first visit in March 2016, in our blog piece here. Our thanks, as always, to the Friends of Brompton Cemetery for providing support for our work and to Chelsea FC for providing the tools.

Brompton Cemetery Clear Up Project – 26 March 2016

A neighbour of Stamford Bridge, Brompton Cemetery is the final resting place of many significant people who have a lasting connection with Chelsea Football Club, most notably the Mears family, Henry Augustus (Gus) Mears having founded our club on 10 March 1905. The meeting where the decision to set up the club was made took place in an upstairs room at the Rising Sun pub (currently the Butcher’s Hook) located opposite The Bridge. The wealthy landlord of the Rising Sun was Alfred Frederick Janes who, along with other members of his family, is also buried at Brompton Cemetery. It was this grave that the clear up team paid particular attention to, the site having been neglected for many years and obscured by a mass of overgrowth.

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The clear up event was organised by Trust board member Cliff Auger along with club historian and Trust member Rick Glanvill and The Friends of Brompton Cemetery, with Chelsea FC providing the gardening tools. Rick was instrumental in seeking the required family permissions to allow the group to work on the grave, and he has also produced a leaflet charting the Chelsea related history of the cemetery, called Final Whistle: The Chelsea Football Club Trail at Brompton Cemetery.

A healthy turnout of 11 willing volunteers helped out on a grey Easter Saturday, including David Beauchamp of the Friends of Brompton Cemetery and Chris Mears, a descendent of the club’s founders.

After paying our respects at the Mears family plot, we moved on to the site of the Janes’s family grave and set about hacking our way through the thick overgrowth of ivy and bramble to the point where the surrounding area was sufficiently cleared to allow the splendid looking grave to be accessed and seen clearly once again. Sustained part way through with hot cross buns baked by Trust Chairman Tim Rolls and a few amusing stories from Chris Mears, the whole team felt they had made great progress before calling it a day, retiring to, where else, the Butcher’s Hook for some much needed refreshment following our thirsty work! But not before paying our respects at the grave of former Chelsea manager Bobby Campbell who sadly passed away last November.

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It was a great start to the project and we plan to make it a regular event, the next visit due to take place after the end of this season.  If you would like to get involved please contact us at enquiries@chelseasupporterstrust.com.

With grateful thanks to our members and friends who came along and helped out; Cliff Auger, David Beauchamp, Debs Coady, Diane Edwards, Steve Hadlow, Paula Harding, Neil Jones (joining us all the way from the West Midlands), Chris Mears, Celia Mindelsohn, Tim Rolls, and Dan Usher.

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