On the 19th September 1905 Thomas spent a busy morning with correspondence, he had a little sleep in the afternoon, and in the evening partook of a light meal. Then he settled down in an easy chair for a rest by the fireside, and turning to his wife, he said, 'My head is so heavy. Let me rest it on you'. A moment later his spirit quietly passed away aged 60 at his home, St Leonards Lodge, Surbiton. Thomas had died of angina pectoris.
It was left as Dr Thomas Barnardo had expressed wish that his body was to be carried to the grave by such of his friends at the Edinburgh Castle and at Stepney Causeway, as should volunteer for this last service. The coffin containing the mortal remains rested in the People's Mission Church at the Edinburgh Castle from Saturday, 23rd to Wednesday, 27th September. Thousands of the East End who had learned to love him paid in these days their last tributes of respect. On Wednesday the 27th, in the presence of an immense concourse of people, the funeral cortege proceeded up Commercial Road, past the Homes to which the Doctor had given his life‑work Leopold House, Labour House and Stepney Causeway.
On The day of the funeral a remarkable procession headed by the Stepney Boy's Band followed by the long and mournful procession included 105 boys from Sheppard House, 235 from Leopold House, 30 from the Norwood Home, 81 from Epsom, 355 from the Stepney Homes, 56 from the Youths' Labour House and 288 little boys from the Watts Naval School, a representative group of 20 youths and young men formerly in the homes, about 300 boys from various homes and branches in the provinces and 91 boy emigrants (who left the next day for Canada): some 1,500 boys in all. Following the hearse had been the empty cab, which Dr Barnardo was wont to use, led by his coachman Peers. Then followed personal relatives, the President and Vice‑Presidents of the homes, representatives of the General Council, distinguished friends of Dr Barnardo, and supporters of his work, representatives of numerous societies (NSPCC, CEW & S, Dr Stephenson's Homes, Stockwell Orphanage, etc), members of the staff, matrons, wardens of the YHL nurses and deaconesses, clerks of the London and country homes, and members of the Edinburgh Castle Mission.
The general public followed in immense throngs. Business was largely suspended throughout the route, and nearly all blinds were drawn on his journey to Liverpool Street. The way was lined by a dense crowd of hushed and reverent people, many of them sobbing, the roughest and the poorest men among them standing with bared heads as the long procession went by.
A special train from Liverpool Street Station had been arranged to take Thomas to Barkingside Station which had been opened in 1903. Dr. Thomas Barnardo's coffin was only one of two coffins to be carried on a underground train. At Barkingside the cortege was re‑formed, 22 pall‑bearers, consisting of Heads of Departments of the homes, the oldest members of the staff and the Deacons of the Mission Church. that proceeded the quarter of a mile into the Girls Village Home past long lines of weeping children who had also gathered on that wet Wednesday afternoon.
The funeral service was held in a marquee within The Village grounds, was conducted by the Bishop of Barking, The Rev H. Newton (clergyman of the church at Surbiton which Dr Barnardo had attended), The Rev A. P. McNeile, mA (Chaplain of the Boys' Homes), and Canon Fleming. The throngs of mourning girls, and the thousands of deeply affected friends and visitors, told their tale of grief and affection. From the laying-in-state and the subsequent funeral attracted mourners in numbers not seen again for a commoner until the burial of Winston Churchill over a century later.
Finally on Wednesday, 4th October, seven days later the actual interment took place in the grounds of the Village on a spot in front of Cairns House, which in his lifetime had been indicated by Dr Thomas John Barnardo.
The Memorial at Barkingside today
The Memorial to Dr. Thomas Barnardo was unveiled on Friday, 19th June 1908. Below is information gleaned about the memorial that still stands today at Barkingside.
The sculptor, Sir. George Frampton, R A was entrusted with the designing and erection of the Memorial at Barkingside which was done without a fee or reward. One of his other commissions is the 1912 bronze Peter Pan statue in Kensington gardens.
The position of the Memorial is close to the Founder's grave that is in front of Cairns House. It was proposed to have a double line of trees leading from the Children's Church to the memorial.
On a granite pedestal is placed a bronze group of three figures a gracious female figure, symbolising Charity, with her arm thrown protectingly around two infants. On the front face of the pedestal is a portrait medallion of Dr. Thomas Barnardo, and at the base are seated three children in bronze, that are almost life size.
Either side of the monument there are seats either side for the use of the children. Inscribed on the granite along this seat are the twin texts.
On the right is carved: “in as mvch as ye did it vnto one of the least of these my brethren ye did it vnto me”
To the left is carved: "svffer little children to come vnto me for of svch is the kingdom of heaven"
On The base under the three girls is a section from the will of Dr. Thomas John Barnardo: “I hope to die as I have lived in the hvmble bvt assvred faith of Jesus Christ as my saviovr my master and my king”
An heraldic lion and crown at the top is modeled from a crest on the ring which Dr. Barnardo was accustomed to wear. The total height of the Memorial is twenty feet, and it is a dignified, effective, and artistically proportioned work, which does prove a worthy commemoration of its honoured subject.
NB: Please note that the use of the letter we know as 'v' was interestingly used to represent 'u' in past inscriptions, and English, as shown on the writing on this memorial. ED.
If any epitaph were needed, Barnardo had already written his own: "If I had to live over again , I would do exactly the same thing, only better, I hope and wiser, and with fewer mistakes"
Lastly did you know: The three girls were at Barkingside at the time the monument was commissioned. We know of one model, this was a miss Emily Pearson, she is the one with a surgical splint. Showing that Thomas Barnardo did not discriminate against any child.
Mrs. Emily Runcie nee Pearson passed away 14th April 1981 Emily was an old girl of Barkingside and became a member of staff. Emily was married to Arthur who gave the boys of Barkingside their distinctive haircuts.
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