Mary Neal Logo Mary Neal - An Undertold Story...
Timeline     1860-1888   1888-1895   1895-1905   1905-1914   1914-1918   1918-1925   1925-1937   1937-1944   1944-1989   1989-2014
Archive -> 1989-2014 -> Lucy visits Mary's plaque at Woking cemetery

Archive

Lucy visits Mary's plaque at Woking cemetery

Rainy Autumn evening. I’d been to Camberley to visit Nita Needham, Mary’s goddaughter. Driving back to London, I found myself on the outskirts of the large Surrey town of Woking. With my windscreen wipers working away, I recalled Mary had been cremated at Woking Crematorium. On the spur of the moment, I decided to make the detour to see if I could find the Crematorium.

I had no map and had to rely on chance to find it circling Woking’s outer ringroads. After several roundabouts, a sign for the Crematorium did appear, and I turned down a road, criss-crossed with throngs of Woking children dawdling home from school. I pulled in; parked and wandered off in the rain through The Crematorium’s rose gardens and fading light to look for Mary’s last resting place: a kind of improvised ancestor appointment. It was a surprisingly beautiful, peaceful place. (In its day, said to be the place ‘to be seen dead in’) With the help of an extremely helpful Crematorium member of staff, I came across a wall plaque of her close life-long friends, Emmeline and Fred Pethick-Lawrence, and after much hunting, Mary’s.

It read:

Mary C.S.Neal CBE
Died 22nd June 1944#

"Deep as The Universe Is My Life and I Know It"

A crop of pine trees swayed overhead nearby and I thought it a strange thing that her favourite tree grew so close to her final resting place. I placed coloured Autumn leaves along the top of the plaque and made my way home.

"Deep As The Universe is My Life And I Know It". The phrase is taken from 'Towards Democracy', a book Mary had much admired, by the poet-philosopher Edward Carpenter. As epitaph to a life that combined deep personal spirituality with constant public service the words are awkward, and apt. Today she might be called a 'deep ecologist,' - someone who recognises how humankind is inseparable from the planet’s web of life and that awareness of the fact, brings humility, compassion and great joy.
 



Comments

The archive is still being added to. Please feel free to comment if there's something you'd like to observe or add.

CAPTCHA