Thursday, 25 July 2019

The Orchid King

It is possible that you have joined one of the groups attending Hatfield Road Cemetery on one of the popular Laid to Rest story walks, organised by the local history group Fleetville Diaries.  If so you will have seen, because we have told the story of the families Sander and Moon, a rather forlorn and overgrown family plot.  Brambles and Buddleia are not really representative of one of the country's foremost orchid hybridisers of the 19th century!

Henry G Moon, artist

If you now take a walk in the cemetery you will discover an impressive plot; the offending brambles and other invasive plants have been coaxed out of the ground, the granite stonework has been cleaned, restored and re-set, fresh topsoil and weed inhibiting matting laid – and there is now fresh green grass growing inside the kerbing.  The grave is along a curved path from the main avenue opposite the chapel, leading towards the Cemetery Manager's office.

Orchid Laelia Goldiana
The work was undertaken by a team from Fleetville Diaries, having become temporary guardians under the Adopt-a-Grave process, and of course with the full blessing of today's members of the Sander and Moon families.  J J Burgess carried out much of the stonework.

Frederick Sander, informally known as the Orchid King, had his nurseries in Camp Road from the 1880s, and in-law and artist Henry Moon produced slightly under two hundred stunning paintings of orchids.  So, there are members of both families buried in the plot.  The full story of the Orchid King can be found on the Frederick Sander & Henry Moon Tribute section of   During the course of the project it was discovered that Moon had also undertaken similar paintings for Peter Barr, a daffodil hybridiser in Streatham.  Peter, rather appropriately, had been known as the Daffodil King.  So representatives of Barr's Streatham research group also joined the Tribute Day.

Before the restoration project began

On a very hot day this week Fleetville Diaries invited some eighty guests, including the current generations of the Sander and Moon families to a special Tribute Day, firstly around the grave in Hatfield Road Cemetery, and then to refreshments and an exhibition at St Paul's Church.  This was an occasion for some members of these two impressive families to meet each other for the very first time, and it is clear that they were overwhelmed by the recognition bestowed on them by the occasion.

The project on completion

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