The Lowe family and Sneinton churchyard

By Stephen Best

SNEINTON CHURCHYARD looking west: the Howe family gravestone is the flat slab in the right foreground. Beyond it is the memorial of the Rev. Edward Williams, and to the left the railed tomb of Thomas Martin.SNEINTON CHURCHYARD looking west: the Howe family gravestone is the flat slab in the right foreground. Beyond it is the memorial of the Rev. Edward Williams, and to the left the railed tomb of Thomas Martin.

A FEW YARDS from the east wall of St Stephen's church, close to a prominent chest tomb commemorating the Rev. Edward Williams, is a plain, flat, stone grave slab. The inscription, covering only part of its surface, is worn, and very difficult to read nowadays, but the words can just be made out:

Nat Feby 19 1792
Obit May 21 1792
Died July 1st 1797
Aged 78'

This tells us only that a baby girl, together with an old lady, has been buried here for about two centuries, but further investigation reveals the presence of the burial vault of a notable Nottingham family, and shows just how fortuitous a survival the stone slab is.

I was first led to this gravestone after reading through Percy J. Cropper's Manuscript Notes on the History of Sneinton, held by the Department of Manuscripts at Nottingham University. Sneinton Magazine no. 43 related how Cropper's transcripts of a number of monumental inscriptions, noted by him at Sneinton about 1890, included one, now long-vanished, on the tomb of Thomas Martin, and so put me on the trail of that most interesting man. The stone which claims our attention here is much less grand, but tells an equally fascinating tale.

Cropper’s notes briefly outlined the significance of this grave slab: 'E of the Williams vault, the vault of the LOWE family, including Alderman Joseph Lowe of Highfield House, Beeston, Mayor of Nottingham 1787, 1797, 1807, and for over 30 years magistrate of Nottingham. He had this vault made 1791 or 1792 on account of the beauty of its situation, and his aversion to the idea of being interred within a town. He considered Sneinton church less likely to be surrounded with buildings than Beeston or Lenton, or any neighbouring church.' Cropper went on to record that the first interment in the vault had been that of Lowe's infant granddaughter Elizabeth, who died on May 21 1792, and that a new square tomb was later erected upon the flat stone memorial, concealing the inscriptions upon it. He further stated that the burial of Miss Lowe in November 1884 filled the vault; it was afterwards decided that a new granite tomb should be put up, so the stone one was taken down, exposing the slab which remains today.

Some of the above information had been sent to Cropper in a letter from Alfred Edward Lawson Lowe, Alderman Joseph Lowe's great, great grandson. A short account of the Lowe family appeared in Lawson Lowe's 'History of the Hundred of Broxtow', of which only the volume dealing with Lenton was issued before its author's untimely death in his late thirties. In this he confirmed Joseph Lowe's repugnance at the idea of being buried in a town, adding that it was thought that Lowe's choice was influenced by 'some fancied resemblance of the situation of Sneinton Church to a church which he had known in earlier life.' Lawson Lowe's research is much drawn on for this article; particularly valuable is the detailed history of the Lowe family pieced together from his papers, and published by his son- in-law Otto-William Braunsdorff.

The Lowes were a family who had long owned land and property in Cheshire. Joseph was born at Loscoe in Derbyshire in 1737, the son of a Presbyterian minister, who sent him to London when he was about seventeen, to work for a linen merchant. In the late 1750s Joseph came to Nottingham, trading for a few years as a mercer in Bridlesmith Gate. By the age of 22 he had been elected a burgess of Nottingham, and had embarked on a busy public life in the town, becoming Sheriff in his mid-twenties. During 1765 Joseph Lowe was married in Manchester to Sarah Hurst, whose late father's extravagance had caused the Hurst estate in, Lancashire to be heavily mortgaged; fortunately the new Mrs Lowe had also inherited other property from her mother’s family. At about this time Lowe moved to Long Row, there beginning a successful and long-lived business as a woollen and linen draper. His house, which belonged to his mother, stood where Greyhound Street joins Long Row.

In July 1787 he was elected Alderman for the North Ward of Nottingham, and was soon afterwards nominated Mayor for the year 1787-88. Within a month of taking office Joseph Lowe had trouble on his hands; there was a riot of framework­knitters, and the new Mayor quickly swore in a number of special constables, also issuing a 'judiciously worded hand-bill' warning people as to their behaviour. Following these precautions there was no further breach of the peace. Alderman and Mrs Lowe marked Christmas 1787 by giving penny loaves to some five hundred of the poorest inhabitants of Nottingham, and donating coal for the occupants of almshouses, poorhouses, and gaol. In February 1788 Lowe, as Mayor, convened a public meeting at the town Hall, in support of the abolition of slavery. In May he had another riot to deal with, arising this time from the high price of meat. Lawson Lowe characterized Joseph as a 'Whig of the old school', forceful in expressing his opinions, but always loyal to king and constitution, and strongly opposed to the revolutionary views prevalent in Nottingham towards the end of the eighteenth century. He was described as a handsome man, rather tall and broad, with a fresh complexion, and was clearly a distinguished and dominant personage in the town.

SNEINTON CHURCH as it appeared when the Lowe vault in the churchyard was opened in 1792.SNEINTON CHURCH as it appeared when the Lowe vault in the churchyard was opened in 1792.

We come now to the family vault at Sneinton. Whether or not Lowe did indeed choose this spot because it reminded him of another church or churchyard, it has to be remembered that the Sneinton church of his day was not remotely like anything we see today. What Lowe would have known was the small and much-patched mediaeval church that had resisted centuries of storm and decay. By the time his family vault was closed, the old church, and its successor, built in 1810, would both be demolished, and the church of 1839 erected in their place. Of this, the crossing tower alone has survived the rebuildings of the early twentieth century.

The first occupant of the Lowe vault was, as already mentioned, Elizabeth, baby daughter of Joseph Hurst Lowe, only son of Joseph and Sarah, and his wife Elizabeth. As the inscription still attests, the child died in May 1792, when just over thirteen weeks old. A sorry muddle was made in the Sneinton parish register, the entry recording her burial on May 24 wrongly calling her 'Mary, daughter of Joseph Hurst Lowe, from Nottm.'

The later 1790s saw Joseph Lowe involved in a number of financial matters. He first sold property in Lancashire which had come from his wife’s mother’s family. Then, on the death of his brother Daniel in 1798, he acquired the Lowe family estate in Cheshire, and in the same year purchased the Highfield estate in Lenton parish. Here he built Highfield House, to the designs of William Wilkins the elder. Wilkins's most notable building was perhaps the nearby Donington Hall in Leicestershire, but he was not called upon to produce anything very spectacular for Joseph Lowe; Highfield House has variously been decribed as 'a plain substantial mansion': 'a plain Georgian mansion': and 'a Georgian brick box'. In 1928, after the acquisition of the Highfields Estate for the University College, it became the residence of the Principal, and subsequently of the Vice-Chancellor of the University.

The architect's sons George and William also attained distinction. George Wilkins later became Vicar of St Mary's, and Archdeacon of Nottingham; as the former he was between 1817 and 1831 responsible for Sneinton church, and actually conducted the burial services of two members of the Lowe family at Sneinton. William Wilkins the younger was architect of, among other buildings, the National Gallery: Downing College, Cambridge: and New Court at Trinity College, Cambridge. The younger Wilkins also designed the much-lamented St Paul’s church in George Street, Nottingham, one of the few Greek revival buildings ever built in the town.

It seems possible that before he actually bought the Highfield estate, Joseph Lowe might have been living there as a tenant or sub-tenant of some part of it, since Lawson Lowe specifically stated that Joseph’s mother-in-law Elizabeth Hurst died at Highfield in 1797. The Sneinton burial register, however, said only that she was 'from Nottingham'.

Following the interment of Mrs Hurst, the slab over the Lowe vault assumed the condition in which it survives today, and no further burials took place here for thirteen years. Joseph Lowe continued to be a busy man, serving as Mayor of Nottingham for a second term in 1797-98. This was an anxious time, with a French invasion feared, and Lowe played an active part in raising companies of infantry in and around the town. Among other things, he provided muskets for these out of his own pocket and in 1803, as one of the owners and occupiers of land in Lenton, volunteered, in the case of national emergency, to supply the military with two waggons, six horses, and two drivers. His third and final term as Mayor occurred in 1807-08, but now over seventy, he took little further active part in municipal matters, spending his last years in improving the Highfield estate, particularly by tree-planting.

The Nottingham Journal chronicled the public side of Joseph Lowe over the years. In the first decade of the nineteenth century, for example, he subscribed to the Lenton and Radford Association for the Prosecution of Felons, to the Sunday Schools, and to the Society for the Relief of the Sick Poor. For some years he acted as a house visitor to Nottingham General Hospital. Joseph Lowe's generosity to those in prison continued, the newspaper reporting on January 2 1808 that: 'The prisoners in the town gaol return their sincere thanks ... for his liberal gift of coals.' His interest in social welfare was further illustrated by his subscription in 1809 to the Vaccine Institution of the Town of Nottingham, which had during the previous year inoculated 3,004 people 'for cow­pock. '

Joseph Lowe died at Highfield on March 20 1810, the Nottingham Journal four days afterwards containing the following announcement: 'On Tuesday last, at the advanced age of 72 years, Mr Joseph Lowe,

Alderman of this Corporation upwards of 22 years. His surviving relations and friends derive consolation only from the consideration of a life spent in the paths of virtue, but now departed, to receive its rewards in another and a better world, where the righteous shall shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their father.'

The Town Clerk had already written to the dead man's son in deeply respectful terms: 7 am Desired by all the Aldermen to condole with you and Mrs Lowe most sincerely upon the Loss you have sustained in your lamented Father's Departure from the cares of this bustling Scene. They have unanimously requested that I would express to you for the Information of yourself and the rest of the Family and particularly of your Mother and self that if convenient and corresponding to your wishes and plans for the Funeral, but not otherwise, they would have great satisfaction in order to bear the last melancholy Testimony of respect to his memory in their power to attend to the Grave the sad Remains of their departed Brother. I beg to know your Sentiments and to be instructed what answer I am to return to this communication.' The family evidently welcomed this offer of official representation at the funeral, as the Mayor and Aldermen were present at Sneinton, wearing their robes of office, black gloves, and black silk scarves tied round their tricorne hats.

Following Joseph Lowe's death the square tomb referred to by Cropper was put up over the vault, obscuring the humble slab in memory of the two members of the family already buried there. A marble slab on one side of this new tomb read as follows:

'Beneath this Tomb are deposited the Remains of JOSEPH LOWE
late one of the Aldermen of NOTTINGHAM Ob. 20th of March, 1810. Aet. 72 Years

It was, sadly, only seven years before the next member of the family joined the Alderman, his only son dying in middle age, as announced in the Nottingham Journal of April 12 1817: 'd. on Wednesday last, at High Field near Lenton, after a short illness, Mr Joseph Hurst Lowe, aged 50 years. The irreparable loss of so affectionate a parent will be long and deeply felt by his afflicted family.'

Joseph Hurst Lowe had never enjoyed robust health; family tradition laid the blame for this at the door of a careless nursemaid, who was said to have taken him out as usual one day, but failed to return home at the expected time. When she did eventually turn up, her excuse was that she had been asked by her lover, a soldier, to walk beside him as he marched out of Nottingham with his regiment, and had accompanied him for several miles in cold, rainy weather. The poor infant took ill through this exposure to the elements, and never regained full health. Whatever the actual cause of his condition, it appears that he was a chronic sufferer from asthma. Unlike his father, Joseph Hurst never played any great part in public affairs, despite being a member of Nottingham Corporation, and Sheriff in 1789. His pleasure lay in outdoor activities, and he was especially interested in farriery. Whenever he was well enough, he would bathe in a spring in Highfield Park.

Until his father's death Joseph Hurst Lowe had lived at the house in Long Row, but moved to Highfield in 1810, and towards the end of 1811 handed over the family business to his son. Like his father, Joseph Hurst Lowe subscribed to the Sunday School movement and to the Association for the Prosecution of Felons. He also served as a house visitor to the General Hospital, and was in 1812 a signatory to a petition asking the Mayor to call a public meeting in favour of seeking peace, the economy of the country having suffered enormously from the protracted war against Napoleon.

J.H. Lowe was thus buried with his daughter and father in the vault at Sneinton, his burial service being taken by a man who would nearly 23 years afterwards be interred only a few yards away from him. This was the Rev. Dr. Robert Wood, one of the more eccentric occupants of Sneinton churchyard. In 1817 Wood was Usher, or second master, at Nottingham Free School in Stoney Street, (later to become Nottingham High School). Eventually appointed Master, he was in 1830 found to have been running the school irresponsibly and negligently, for months on end not being on speaking terms with his Usher; amid general relief he was quickly pensioned off. Wood also held a number of clerical appointments, among them the assistant curacy of St Mary’s; in this capacity he conducted in November 1810 the first Divine Service in the newly-opened Sneinton Church which briefly replaced the mediaeval St Stephen’s.

Within two years of Joseph Hurst Lowe's death, his mother Sarah was buried with him in the churchyard; she died in March 1819, aged 75 or 76. Lowe's wife Elizabeth survived him by almost nine years; the daughter of George Langstaffe, a merchant of Bishop Auckland in County Durham, she died at Mapperley in February 1826, and like her husband, daughter, and parents-in- law, was interred at Sneinton.

ALFRED LOWE (1789-1856), from a painting by Josiah Gilbert.ALFRED LOWE (1789-1856), from a painting by Josiah Gilbert.

The Lowes were again present as mourners at Sneinton in the following year, when Sydney, the 26 year-old younger son of Joseph Hurst and Elizabeth was buried in the vault on July 6 1827. Born in Nottingham in 1801, he lived as an adult in Beeston, latterly at a house in Cow Gate (now Wollaton Road), which became the Commercial Inn. Sydney was, according to Lawson Lowe, very popular with the villagers, possibly because his hospitality was 'lavish beyond his means'. At Beeston village wakes he used to give a barrel of ale for the revellers to enjoy, and provided prizes for the winners of races: hats and waistcoats for the men, and smocks for the women. Owner of several useful racehorses, his colours were red, with white stripes, and black cap. His mare Creeping Jenny won for him a silver cup at Grantham Races in 1825. Sydney Lowe died unmarried at Beeston on June 29, having evidently packed a good deal of pleasure into his short life.

It will be remembered that the first member of the family to lie in the family vault was Sydney's eldest sister, the infant Elizabeth Lowe, in 1792. As was quite customary at the time, the next daughter to be born to Joseph Hurst and Elizabeth Lowe after the baby's death was also given her mother's Christian name, in the hope that it might thus be perpetuated, and this second Elizabeth, born in 1795, survived to marry William Surplice, later of Woodville, Sherwood, at Lenton church, and to bear several children of her own. She died in October 1830 and was buried at Sneinton, in a vault next to that of the Lowes. No identifiable trace of her memorial can now be found. The parish registers described her as 'Eliza Surplice, from Clumber Street. Nottingham'. After his wife's death. Mr Surplice took his resoundingly ecclesiastical surname to Australia, and eventually died in Brisbane.

HIGHFIELD HOUSE as it appeared about 1870.HIGHFIELD HOUSE as it appeared about 1870.

The current head of the Lowe family had been living at Highfield House since the death of his father Joseph Hurst Lowe in 1817, and would remain there until he died in 1856. This was Alfred Lowe, a man of much weightier accomplishments than his father or brother. He was born in Nottingham in 1789 and baptised at High Pavement Unitarian Chapel; the Lowes were one of many families prominent in Nottingham’s public and business life of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to be closely associated with, and regular worshippers at High Pavement Chapel. As a pupil at the Nottingham Academy in Parliament Street, the young Lord Byron was for a while one of Alfred's schoolmates.

In 1812 he married Charlotte Octavia Swann, a member of a well-known local family - her father Edward Swann, a grocer of Long Row, was twice Mayor of Nottingham. Before his father’s death Alfred Lowe was in business at the Long Row drapery shop, and had already become a member of the Town Council. The Nottingham Journal of November 21 1812 published notices announcing the transfer of the family business to Alfred. Joseph Hurst Lowe solicited continued patronage for his son from customers, and shrewdly pointed out that all his trade debts would in future be settled by Alfred. The latter’s own advertisement is worth quoting in full: 'Alfred Lowe having succeeded to the long established Shop and Trade of his Father, requests from his Friends and the Public their kind Support; and begs leave to inform them, he has purchased a large and fashionable Assortment of modern DRAPERY and HABERDASHERY GOODS, which he is enabled to sell on the lowest Terms. A.L. will feel grateful for all Favours with which he may be honoured, and hopes by his Attention to merit their Continuance.'

The Nottingham Journal recorded some of his other concerns ; in 1814 he subscribed £1 for the relief of local soldiers and sailors wounded in the wars, and of the widows and children of those who had died. Two years later he sent the sum of two guineas towards relieving the distress of the poor, caused by 'the Want of Employment and the high Price of Flour.' (This donation appears to have stung his father into taking similar action, as the paper reported in January 1817 that Joseph Hurst Lowe had sent the substantial sum of £5 to the same cause.) Alfred signed a public notice expressing local opposition to 'the rapid and increasing influx of foreign coin into the Town of Nottingham', at a time when the country was about to see the introduction of new silver coinage. He was also one of those who requested the Mayor' to call a public meeting in 1818 to consider petitioning the Commons for the repeal of the Corn Laws.

The death of Alfred Lowe prompted a lengthy notice in the Nottingham Review of August 15 1856. 'Mr Lowe had just completed the 67th year of his age. For the last two years of his life he had been affected by disease of the heart, which, within the last fortnight, became more confirmed, and terminated in exhaustion. The family, for three generations, occupied the premises on the Long-row, now in the occupation of Mr Williams, chemist, and formerly a silk mercery establishment; and Mr Lowe's father many years ago retired to the beautiful house and grounds of Highfield, having amassed a very considerable fortune in business. Here the deceased devoted himself very much to rural pursuits, chiefly arboricultural, and to the embellishment of this delightful spot, which occupies an elevated situation overlooking the Trent Valley from a fine commanding plateau faced by sandstone bluffs, at the bottom of which there is a handsome lake, and environed by about 160 acres of lawns, pleasure-grounds, and meadows, abounding in all the concealed landscape beauties of a private demesne. The interment, we understand, will take place in the family vault at Snenton, this day (Friday)... Mr Lowe leaves behind him a widow, a grown up family, and numerous family connections, all of whom are well known amongst us, to lament their loss.'

An obituary in the Proceedings of the Meteorological Society of London revealed further aspects of Alfred Lowe's wide- ranging interests: Tn early life Mr Lowe was an ardent and zealous supporter of the Daily and Sunday Schools attached to the Unitarian Chapel at Nottingham, which he attended, and to the day of his death assisted in the welfare and prosperity of these Institutions; also by his unwearied exertions he succeeded in carrying through, profitably and beneficially, two Mechanics' Exhibitions at Nottingham, forming a large basis to the fund raised and invested in the erection of the present Mechanics' Institution, which he lived to see completed, and, it is hoped, fixed upon an enduring foundation. A lover of the Arts and Sciences, he mainly contributed to the establishment of Amateur Musical Societies in Nottingham. He was a nice discriminator of painting, and his collection at Highfield House was much esteemed by connoisseurs. Mr Lowe inherited considerable property from his ancestors. His estate in every part displayed the refined taste which he possessed and exercised in bringing it to its state of beauty and perfection. The grounds, in which were placed numerous most rare and exotic plants, showed that no expense had been spared to make it one of the most delightful and picturesque domains in the neighbourhood. Mr Lowe was a member of the Meteorological Society from its commencement, and kept regular observations for many years, continuing them to the 31st of July, 1856 (only ten days before his death). He also took much delight in Astronomy and built an observatory. He was a Justice of the Peace for the County of Nottingham, the duties connected with which demanded a great portion of his time; and was also appointed a Justice of the Peace for the Town of Nottingham, but he never acted in the latter capacity. Had his powers of body been equal to his mind, his usefulness would have been more extended and appreciated; his general kindness and benevolence won the esteem and regard of all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance'.

These two tributes admirably outlined Alfred Lowe's activities and qualities. His efforts on behalf of Nottingham Mechanics' Institution were indeed important and untiring; he was one of its first Trustees, and for many years Vice-President and then Treasurer. In 1846 he started a class for vocal music, which grew into the Nottingham Sacred Harmonic (now Harmonic) Society; he also helped to promote orchestral and choral concerts in the town. In 1850 the Mechanics’ members subscribed towards the acquisition of a portrait of Lowe, which was displayed in their Large Hall. Not surprisingly, the Mechanics' annual report which had to chronicle his death referred to 'his hearty devotion' to the Institution. As for Alfred Lowe's knowledge of art, we have a detailed description of his collection at Highfield in the 1856 publication 'Rambles round Nottingham', written by W.W. Fyfe, editor of the Nottinghamshire Guardian newspaper. Lowe's pictures were said to include works attributed to artists as eminent as Rembrandt, Cuyp, Bonington, George Moreland, Poussin, Veronese, and Andrea del Sarto. Fyfe also remarked on the beauty of the trees at Highfield House: 'We beheld the huge stem of the Himalayan deodara already towering to the skies, and all the splendid trees of the coniferous tribe recently imported into our climate springing up side by side.' Trees specially praised by Fyfe included golden yew, cedars of Lebanon, and varieties of japonica, araucaria, pine and cypress.

Alfred Lowe’s interest in meteorology and astronomy led him not only to keep a daily weather record at Highfield for at least 16 years, but also to fix a telescope on the roof of the house. Fyfe enumerated the scientific instruments in use at Highfields; these included a Newman’s barometer: Negretti's patent thermometers: wet and dry bulb thermometers: maximum and minimum thermometers: rain-gauges: a Schönbein’s ozonometer: a wind-vane 54 feet high: and a Lind's anemometer. Lowe also built an astronomical observatory at Beeston Rylands which survived until 1963, the subject of great speculation on the part of this writer when a small boy. A tower with an octagonal roof, it stood in Meadow Road, close to Beeston Station and immediately to the south of the railway line. Its shape and conjectural purpose lent it several local nicknames: 'Pepper Box Hall’: 'the Rylands Lighthouse': and the one used some twenty years ago for the title of an excellent BBC Radio Nottingham programme about the Lowes, 'the Beeston Fog Machine'. Though established by Alfred Lowe, the observatories with their instruments were by 1856 being worked by his equally brilliant son, of whom more in a moment.

After Alfred's death at Highfield in August 1856, his widow Charlotte Octavia, to whom he had left a life-interest in the Highfield estate, remained there until her death in April 1865. Her interment in the Lowe vault took place on May 3. Charlotte Lowe's funeral at Sneinton was conducted by yet another noteworthy cleric, who had nine years earlier taken Alfred Lowe's burial service. This was her nephew, the Rev. Samuel Kirke Swann. A second cousin once removed of the poet Henry Kirke White, Kirke Swann grew up in Nottingham, and after graduating from Cambridge was ordained, serving as curate in several parishes, the last of them Gedling. He resigned this position after a number of years, however, but continued to live in Carlton. Always refusing offers of preferment within the Church, and declining regular duty, Kirke Swann nevertheless assisted at services on most Sundays in his own or neighbouring parishes. Another man of wide accomplishments, he was keenly interested in astronomy, meteorology, and archaeology. From his father he inherited the scanty ruins of Lenton Priory, which he cared for and bequeathed to Lawson Lowe on his death at Carlton in 1886. Swann was buried at Warsop, where he owned property.

The Lowes had left Highfield House for good by the time the next member of the family was buried in Sneinton churchyard. Alfred's son Edward Joseph was the last of the Lowes to live at Highfield; already mentioned in connection with the observatories, he was in some ways the most remarkable of all the family. As he is not buried at Sneinton he comes outside the strict confines of this short account, but is too important to be omitted. Born in 1825, he went after his marriage to live at Beeston, where his son Lawson Lowe, source of much of the information set out here, was born. In the early 1850s Edward Lowe moved to Broadgate House, Beeston, known originally as The Observatory. Not to be confused with the lighthouse observatory which stood near Beeston Station, this building still exists, at 72 Broadgate, having been used for a number of years as the headquarters of the University Air Squadron.

The most notable member of the family not buried in Sneinton. EDWARD JOSEPH LOWE (1825-1900).The most notable member of the family not buried in Sneinton. EDWARD JOSEPH LOWE (1825-1900).

Though he received no formal higher education, E.J. Lowe was the archetype of the scholarly amateur scientist and enquirer, evidently inheriting all the intellectual gifts of his father Alfred. Beginning his weather records as a boy under his father's supervision, he regularly had weather observations published in The Times, and wrote his first book on meteorology when only 21. Not long afterwards he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and was a regular contributor to the Society's Transactions. Further publications followed, including volumes on the climate and conchology of Nottinghamshire, and a series of erudite, and beautifully illustrated, books on British and exotic ferns. Edward Lowe's collection of ferns at Highfield House included, according to Fyfe, some six hundred varieties. His scientific activities were prodigiously varied, and his published papers and addresses far too numerous to be listed here. He was honoured by a number of learned societies, and in 1867 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In the early 1880s Lowe sold the estate at Highfield to a lace manufacturer, Henry Simpson, and moved to Shirenewton Hall, near Chepstow in Monmouthshire. He lived until 1900, a richly talented man, and, like other interesting members of the Lowe family, was buried far away from Sneinton. The Highfield Estate eventually, in 1919-20, became the property of Sir Jesse Boot, who a year or so afterwards offered it as the site for the new University College buildings.

We must now go back a little in time to record the last interment in the Lowe vault at Sneinton. Some time in the 1860s Edward Lowe exchanged residences with his sister Marianne Agnes, he moving into Highfield House, while she occupied the house vacated by him at Broadgate. Marianne remained here until her death on November 9 1884; she was buried at Sneinton four days later, the service being conducted by her cousin Kirke Swann. News of her death, however, appears to have eluded the compilers of some local directories, Miss Lowe still being listed as a Beeston resident as late as 1887. So, in the words of P.J. Cropper, 'Miss Lowe filled the vault', and sometime between her burial and the date of Cropper's visit to Sneinton churchyard the large square tomb was dismantled, exposing the original slab which had been there since the 1790s. Despite Cropper’s assertion that a new granite tomb was decided on, it is not clear whether this plan was abandoned, or the new monument put up and subsequently demolished. There is certainly no trace of any such structure now, and one inclines to the view that the new memorial was never proceeded with.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the Lowes at least still have one worn and obscure inscription to record their place in Sneinton. Like Thomas Martin and Edward Williams, mentioned at the beginning of this brief narrative, the Lowe family’s Sneinton asociations seem to have been tenuous, but their presence here adds to the rich historical legacy to be found in St Stephen's churchyard. It is a heritage that the community must cherish, and guard zealously.

I am grateful to the Department of Manuscripts, Nottingham University, for making Percy J. Croppers Manuscript Notes on the History of Sneinton available to me. As always, Nottinghamshire Local Studies Library have given me a free run of their collection, and I have also consulted records at Nottinghamshire Archives Office. My thanks to all. Of a large number of printed sources seen by me, the following have been especially useful, and I gladly acknowledge my debt to them.

BARNES, Frank. Priory demesne to University campus: a topographic history of Nottingham University. Nottingham, 1993

BRAUNSDORFF, Otto-William. Some account of the family of Lowe... compiled from the papers left by the late Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Edward Lawson Lowe. Dresden, 1896

FYFE, William Wallis. Rambles round Nottingham: a series of successive visits, vol. 1. London & Nottingham, 1856

LOWE, Alfred Edward Lawson. History of the Hundred of Broxtow, pt. 1. Nottingham & London, 1871

Stephen Best.