29 November 2011

The graves of Matthias and Catherine Von Holst

"April 11, in London, aged 86, Matthias Von Holst, the celebrated composer of music." Liverpool Mercury, 25 April 1845.

A while back I found that Matthias and Catherine/Catharina/Katherina/Katharina Von Holst were both buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in London. Thinking particularly of Matthias, I wondered if there was an inscription on the grave so I decided to send an email and ask. I have found in my family history research that there are people who ignore email requests for information or assistance (I probably get answers to 1 in 5 of my emails) and people who go out of their way to help you.

On this occasion I got a reply from a wonderfully helpful lady who told me the grave number (4671, square 118, in the Church of England section) and said she would have to go out and find the grave to see if the memorial still existed. She sent a photo the next day, which showed a very old grave, with the stone grave covering on an angle and no obvious headstone or inscription.

I also enquired of her whether Matthias' wife was buried in either of the graves beside him. No, in fact Catherine Von Holst was buried in a public vault, Catacomb A, vault 50 (ref 1092). She advised that for various reasons the catacombs cannot be visited.

I am so grateful to this lady for her assistance. That she even went out of her office and took a photo for me amazes me. It just goes to show, you should always ask - you never know how helpful the person is willing to be!


  1. Congratulations Prue. It's always wonderful to get an answer to an email like this....I got one myself today so I was thrilled with that. I like to keep my ammo dry, as they say, saving it for the ones I really need help with, like asking someone to look at a grave in London. Some people really go beyond the call of duty and make our day!I think that "Down Under" address generates sympathy sometimes ;-)

  2. Yes, I always hope that they might imagine themselves in my shoes, half a world away, unable to access what they have at their fingertips. : )