NOSTALGIA: Artistic sons’ Cirencester memorial to mother

THE grave at the Chesterton Cemetery, also known as Cirencester Cemetery, for Mary Ann Gibbons is an unusual memorial quite unlike anything else in the cemetery, writes Robert Heaven.

It is falling apart and will soon be a ‘lost’ memorial to the past.

Mary Ann Gibbons was the mother of Arthur Henry Gibbons and seven other children.

Three of her sons were artists, two of which were particularly influential in the English Aesthetic Movement.

Owen Gibbons (1847-1911), and Francis Gibbons (1853-1918) designed polychrome ceramic tiles for Maw & Co which by the end of the century was the largest tile factory in the world; producing Art Nouveau designs, followed by unique Art Deco geometric styles.

Another of her sons, Arthur Gibbons, was organist at the parish church for half a century.

When Mary Ann Gibbons died in 1863, she was buried in Chesterton Cemetery in a grave that even today stands out as being highly unusual.

The grave, provided by her sons is a highly decorated monument covered with majolica-style tiles produced at the Maw & Co factory.

The tiles burst with lilies suggesting peace and flawlessness, and also roses which symbolise love and also hint at a secret – perhaps the secret being one the brothers wanted to keep – their mother died “insane” in Gloucester Asylum.

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