Friends. Photography. Adventure.

Who was Albert Ede?

It’s no secret that I love shooting in cemeteries. You can rummage around my site or other people’s and you’ll find many examples me and my friends of getting naked with dead people! Something I often wonder when we’re having one of these adventures is what are the stories of the people who inadvertently feature in our photos? Tonight I decided to find out and with a little bit of rudimentary research amongst free public records I started to build a picture of Albert Ede’s life.

Born in the summer of 1886, Albert was the middle child of Thomas and Sarah. The couple were married young by today’s standards – teenagers. As newlyweds they lived on Isabella Street, which for Londoners, or those who know London well, is the little street just off The Cut where you’ll find lots of restaurants under the railway arches.

Albert’s birth was registered north of the river in Clerkenwell, which may have something to do with his father’s work as a brass molder; the area was a hub for watchmakers. However, by the time of the 1901 census the family were living just five minutes walk from Isabella Street on Cornwall Road. By then Sarah was a widow and 14-year-old Albert was a messenger boy.

The 1911 census tells us the family had then moved to Lothian Road in Brixton. Albert was 24 and single. His elder brother had moved out but his three sisters were all single and living at home. That four adults in their twenties should all be single and living at home with their mother fascinates me. In the early twentieth century this was very unusual. Did Albert ever marry? Without paying for his death certificate I can’t know for sure, but the dedication on this headstone is by Sarah to her son and two years after he died she was buried with him so it seems unlikely.

Albert didn’t live long enough to participate in the 1921 census – the war records show that he died on 25th January 1917, aged 30. He was Private Ede and serving in the Army Service Corp, the branch of the army that was responsible for coordinating logistics, from transport to stationery, food to fuel. He died at home in Brixton and was buried three miles away in Nunhead Cemetery.
I would love to know how he ended up with such a grand headstone when his family’s professions and circumstances would suggest a modest income. I’d love to know what he looked like, his personality, what impact his father’s death had on him, what his relationship with his mother and siblings was like, whether he had lovers.

In a parallel universe where the internet hasn’t delivered up the basic facts of a life lived more than a hundred years ago and where we can’t see that the dedication is from a mother to a prematurely departed son, I like to think of this second photo being one of those lovers visiting their “dear Albert.” Where Maria strips naked in the cemetery to feel as close to him as possible. I wonder what he’d think about his headstone being used in this way?

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked


  1. mariasibylla

    Oh, this was a lovely thing to do, to remember him this way. I’m so happy to be able to be a part of it.

  2. books1799

    I often wonder about the people behind the names in cemetries. Yes, I spend a good deal of time in them too. As a student I enjoyed Highgate cemetry and recently have discovered Rosary Cemetry in Norwich, the first non denominational cemetry in the uk. It is overgrown with brambles and trees which are gradually smothering the graves. Volunteers try to hold it back. I greatly enjoyed the research you did on Albert Ede and the skilful way you presented it. You really put some flesh on his ancient bones.

  3. Marie Rebelle

    This is fascinating! When walking in an old cemetery I always wonder what lives the people led, what stories colored their lives. I have a friend who does genealogy research and I love reading her posts about it. She’s currently researching my ancestors ?
    Rebel xox

  4. Life of Elliott...

    I like to do things like this, finding out more about a stranger that catches my eye in a cemetery. My favorite one is Graceland in Chicago.

  5. Posy Churchgate

    This was wonderful and very respectfully done. It is nice touch to celebrate him in this way and to wonder about who he was and how he touched this world.
    After crafting my tale Graveyard Dare having used a fictional name on the gravestone, Mrs Fever kindly looked up Edward Thackeray and told me her findings. Although the ET she found sounded rather a good guy, it made me think that the graveside setting had more to give and my 3 part story Raising Edward Thackeray grew from that. For fictional purposes, I depicted my tombstone owner as a randy guy, however! I am glad your musings went in a different direction.

    • Exposing40

      Oh, I must find this story!!!

      • Posy Churchgate

        What my Edward Thackeray? 3 parts & a spin off, on my blog (October)

  6. Molly

    I often wonder about the stories of the people in the graves. We recently went to the cemetery in Southampton and there I found a fairly recently buried Queenie who was nearly 90 yrs old when she died and was buried with her husband who died 30 years ago. Made me wonder about her, did she stay single for all those years because he was her great love or because he was awful and it out her ever finding another person. We shall never know but there are potentially to very different stories there to be told and I think that is part of what I love about gravestones etc, is that they are untold stories/mysteries

  7. kisungura

    Love this, I too wonder about who they were and how they lived.

  8. Jo

    This is a lovely post. I’ve always been on the other side of the fence – the idea of doing a shoot in a cemetery has always felt a bit irreverent in a way that makes me uncomfortable (weird for a pervert, I know), but the fact that you took the time to look into this man’s life and acknowledge his humanity is wonderful. Thank you for sharing his story!!!

    • Exposing40

      It’s funny, I feel like that about churches, even though I’m atheist. I feel like I just respect the buildings even though they don’t mean anything to me. Xx

  9. notyouraveragegirl363042

    I can easily lose an afternoon wandering around a cemetery looking at names and dates. I love a bit of family history. Recently I wandered around in my local graveyard and one stone caught my eye, yet it was only a few years old. I noted the details and looked it up when I got home and it turned out to have an extraordinary and tragic story attached to it which I can’t detail here because it will give away my location.
    That said I wouldn’t do a photoshoot in one. You need permission to do shoots in graveyards. I’m happy to stick to cataloguing the sprinkling of my ancestors in various cemeteries around the country. 🙂

  10. nopantsendurance

    What a cool thing to do!

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