This incredible photo of Ethel was taken in the
late 1920’s shortly before she took her own life at Nast Hyde upon the old
Hatfield to St. Albans Branch line Railway on Wednesday, 22nd May, 1929 after
the 4.30pm Steam Train had passed by the pedestrian crossing at ‘Deadmans
Crossing’ on route to Nast Hyde Halt and Hatfield Station…her age… just 18
This lovely photo of Ethel was sent into H.Q. accompanied with a beautiful photo of Ethels Father ‘William’ with great thanks to family members Joan Perry and Hazel Mascoll. Ethels sister Margaret ( seen standing in the family photo ) was Joan’s Mum and after a delightful phone call with Joan tonight…Joan told me how her family have been so overwhelmed by the love and support shown to them and Ethel over the last few days as I broke the story to everyone.
Their family have been searching for Ethels final resting place for some time but because Ethel had taken her own life it was considered to be a sin and also against the law of which an unmarked grave was the best you could hope for…usually away from other graves and around the very edge out of sight. Yet my enquiries with St. Marks Church in Colney Heath showed on an official map that Ethel was never hidden away and was in fact placed amongst other graves…yet the absence of a headstone still appeared to stand up to the rules at the time. The Funeral was attended by five mourners along with a large number of sympathising neighbours and friends. Included in the wreaths was one inscribed ”With deepest sympathy, from the employees of the St. Albans Hosiery Mills”. This is where Ethel worked. The service was taken on Monday 27th May 1929 by the Rev. A. Merchant. The internment was in the graveyard extension, plot number 38. Perhaps she was allowed to join the others because not just one life was lost that afternoon…but two!
The family confirmed to me that Ethel had fallen pregnant by a married man from the same road who’s name will be kept private. This obviously caused great upset and stress to Ethel and her family…especially given how others viewed sex before marriage and sex with someone else who was already married during this period of time. Their generation were incredibly proud and strict Church going people who would try and hide these sort of mishaps. Ethel clearly wanted to spare them all from this. It’s understood that a note was found addressed to her Mother and Dad…inside Ethels blue bag saying: ‘Please forgive me for what I’m about to do….Eth”.
So Ethels new Headstone installed this week is placed with an incredible amount of LOVE, HEARTACHE AND RESPECT from everyone who has learnt about her and her family over the last few days. Her family and myself hope that Ethels life wasn’t in vein and the wonderful amount of love and support shown to her may offer hope to others who feel lost, cold and alone in similar circumstances…please, NEVER GIVE UP!
My personal thanks to Ethels family for being so brave in allowing this heart breaking story to be told and rest assured in knowing that Ethel and her beautiful baby will sleep far better now than ever before…knowing that they are surrounded by the LOVE & WARMTH from everyone in today’s generation.