Tombstone Tuesday: Remembering a tragic barn fire in Burwell


Standing in the grounds of the churchyard at Burwell, Cambridgeshire, is a double-sided headstone, remembering 78 people who burnt to death in a barn fire in Burwell in 1727.

The victims are listed in the Burwell parish burial registers as having been attending Robert Shepheard’s puppet show, and that an unattended candle, left by a servant named Richard Whittaker from Hadstock, Essex, caused the fire through negligence.

The front of the gravestone to the victims of the fire, in Burwell, Cambridgeshire.

The front of the gravestone to the victims of the fire, in Burwell, Cambridgeshire.

And the opposite side of the headstone carries a note.

The reverse of the gravestone to the victims of the fire, in Burwell, Cambridgeshire.

The reverse of the gravestone to the victims of the fire, in Burwell, Cambridgeshire.

Robert Shepheard (the master of the puppet show), his wife, daughter, and two servants were amongst the dead.

Richard Whittaker survived and ended up in court. He was acquitted.

About Andrew Martin

+Andrew Martin is owner and lead writer for History Repeating and Family Tree UK. Genealogist, historian, writer, photographer and would-be archaeologist. He'd love a time machine, but worries that it might take all the fun out of it.
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One Response to Tombstone Tuesday: Remembering a tragic barn fire in Burwell

  1. How tragic! Back then, that would have been a large portion of the village?

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