Late baby girl finally gets a headstone in Northampton after 38 years

A baby girl known only as a 'fallen sparrow' has been given a headstone after a 38-year-long campaign by a former Northampton vicar and his wife.

Saturday, 7th December 2019, 5:00 pm
The new headstone reads 'In loving memory of an unknown baby girl. Died 18th May 1982. A fallen sparrow, known only to God and loved by God'. Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

Margaret and her husband George Burgon, who was the former vicar of St Mary's Church in Far Cotton for 23 years, laid an unknown baby girl to rest almost 40 years ago at Towcester Road Cemetary.

Between them and their friends, they have been visiting the baby's place of rest for decades, laying bunches of flowers four times a year at her grave, which only had a vase and no headstone.

Margaret said: "My husband took the funeral all those years ago and I've been coming with him to visit because I felt someone had to reflect love and motherhood.

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Joan Smith, councillor Graham Walker, Margaret Burgon and Stella Mackenzie.

"When he buried her he was not able to give her a name so we named her 'fallen sparrow', known only to God and loved by God.

"A promise I made to her in 1982 is that she would never be forgotten."

On the morning of May 18, 1982 the baby's body was found in a carrier bag near Northampton train station. No one has ever been brought to justice over her death.

The baby was given a full Christian burial in the November and a while later Co-op Funeral Directors placed a stone flower vase to mark her grave but the baby has been without a headstone for 38 years.

Flowers were left at the headstone by Margaret on Friday after AJ Mills placed the new headstone.

On Friday (December 6) stonemason, Jordan Mills, of AJ Mills in Rothwell, kindly donated a headstone for the baby, before a memorial ceremony was held for her.

"I now feel content," Margaret added. "This baby was not afforded the dignity of being buried in the children’s section but placed on the edge of the cemetery. I doubt any visitors realise she is there.

"In fact the whole area had become very overgrown and I must thank Graham Walker, the local councillor, for arranging to get it cleared so this headstone can go in place.

"I feel now that I have finally kept my promise to her and visitors to the cemetery will see a headstone to this unknown baby girl whose life was so cruelly taken at the hands of others."

Councillor Walker (Con, Delapre & Briar Hill) helped to get Idverde, the council's grounds maintence contractor, to cut down the trees growing over the former grave.

He said: "It was so sad when I came up here. She was covered in trees and bushes and a lot of people chucked rubbish around and that's when they got me involved.

"The nice thing is now we all know she's here. Margaret, George and their friends have been coming every year but now so many more people now know about it. I will be asking Idverde to upgrade and maintain the area for her."