December 9 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 30, 2013
A previously undiscovered grave of a couple behind a historic Norfolk manor house has been restored.
The memorial marble cross for George Cawston and his wife Mary, who died in 1918 and 1924 respectively, was found damaged in Cawston Cemetery on Aylsham Road last year.
Mr Cawston, a millionaire in his day, bought the Cawston Park Estate near Aylsham in the late 1900s and built the grade II* manor house which was finished in 1897.
The grave was discovered after Mike Gibbs, safety manager of the Jeesal Group which bought Cawston Park three years ago, started researching the history of the house.
Mr Gibbs said: “It interested me to find out more about George Cawston, his wife and his family. The grave was totally overgrown and the cross was shattered into three pieces. It was in a state.
“The restoration was done in memory of Mr Cawston. He was quite a remarkable man. He did a lot for the village and the community and opened the estate up to children in the village.”
He added the restored grave looked “absolutely superb”.
The work was done by Taverham stonemason Paul Miles this summer and was rededicated in a service led by honorary chaplain Captain Paul Cooper of Aylsham Salvation Army.
Mr Cawston was a London-based stockbroker and barrister and made his fortune by becoming one of the founding directors of the British South Africa company.
He discovered Cawston village by chance after finding out Cawston Park Estate was for sale. When he bought the 125 acres there was no manor house.
He bought the estate intending to use the title Cawston of Cawston and ended up becoming a benefactor of the Medieval village along with his wife.
Following the death of their son Cecil in the Boer War the couple sold Cawston Park and moved back to London. The village hall is dedicated to Cecil.
Cawston Park was in private ownership until the 1950s and was previously used as a college.
It is currently run as hospital which provides accommodation, assessment and treatment for people with learning disabilities.