An Update on the E.W. Barton-Wright Memorial Project

Back in 2005, the Bartitsu Society intended to dedicate funds raised through sales of the Bartitsu Compendium, Volume 1 to the creation of a memorial stone for Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright, who had died under humble circumstances in 1951 and was buried in a so-called “pauper’s grave” – an un-marked, communal plot – at Kingston Cemetery, near London. We discovered, however, that there was a cemetery policy prohibiting the placement of individual grave markers on communal plots because it’s impossible to precisely identify where an individual was buried. A temporary, symbolic marker was then placed at the site by Society member Phil Giles (see below):

Our efforts then shifted to cultural memorials, including a wall display at the Marylebone Public Library, an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and various documentary and writing projects, all of which were carried out between 2008-2013.  

We also pursued memorial plaque options at the site of the original Bartitsu Club in Shaftesbury Avenue, but Barton-Wright was not considered to be historically notable enough for the Blue Plaque scheme and the location wasn’t suitable for commemoration via Green Plaque.  An effort to donate a permanent Barton-Wright display to the Self Defence Gallery at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds looked promising for a while, but became tangled in red tape.  

Frank Jastrzembski – an author and historian who arranged for a grave marker in honour of Colonel Thomas Hoyer Monstery, the famous 19th century Danish-American duellist, soldier-of-fortune and self-defence instructor – has recently discovered that it is now possible to install permanent markers on communal graves at Kingston Cemetery. These markers are not full “gravestones” but can be of any design within the dimensions of 12″ cubed. In collaboration with Edward Barton-Wright’s descendants, a permanent stone marker and plaque is now being designed as a fitting memorial for the founder of Bartitsu.

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