Fitting tribute to former Northamptonshire teacher after researchers found she had been buried in an unmarked grave

Miss E. M. Keward, photograph by W Parsonson
Miss E. M. Keward, photograph by W Parsonson

A cross in memory of a Northamptonshire teacher who was buried in an unmarked grave will be unveiled this week after a fund-raising campaign.

Two years ago, while research was being undertaken on the now-defunct Towcester Grammar School, a sad story was uncovered.

Retired teacher, Miss Ellen M Keward B.A., who taught French at the school for more than 40 years, had been buried in an unmarked grave in Stony Stratford in 1989, as she had no local relatives.

A Facebook site for Old Towcestrians was set up and members began raising funds for a memorial for Miss Keward.

Crowd-funding soon enabled the group to commission an oak cross, complete with a bronze plaque, to mark the grave, along with a framed photograph of Miss Keward which will be presented to the grammar school’s successor, Sponne School.

Born in Nottingham, in 1898, Miss Keward never married. Instead, she devoted herself to her pupils. Fond of sports, she took part in school hockey and tennis tournaments, and was actively involved in the “Old Towcestrians”, arranging debates and other extra-curricular activities. The many happy memories posted online by ex-pupils have been evidence of her on-going interest in the hundreds of pupils who appeared in her classroom over the years.

On February 23 at 2pm, at London Road cemetery, Stony Stratford, the cross will be unveiled, and a short service will be conducted by Father Ross Northing, priest of St Mary & St Giles, Stony Stratford, where Miss Keward worshipped.

Iain Massey, head of school at Sponne School, will also be joining the many ‘Old Tows’ who will be attending to pay their respects and say “au revoir” to this well-loved, long-serving member of school staff.