Susannah Nutkins (1816-1906)
A memorial that may have inspired one of Britain’s favourite children’s authors.
The Nutkins memorial sits in a prominent position between the cemetery’s colonnades. Susannah lived a long life, reaching her 90th year, but the family grave also includes her grandson Tom. He died a few weeks before Susannah, aged just 14.
It’s an eye-catching memorial and a distinctive name, which brings to mind the popular Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter. Beatrix, who wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit and many other well-loved children’s books, was born in South Kensington. She lived there with her parents until she married, aged 47, in 1913.
We don’t know for sure, but it’s quite possible that Beatrix spent time wandering the leafy paths of the cemetery, watching the wildlife and thinking about her children’s stories. She may have imagined Peter Rabbit and his friends in this ‘walled garden’, and perhaps found some of their names here too. There are several Mr McGregors, as well as three families of Nutkins, buried in the cemetery. There’s also a Jeremiah Fisher, three Thomas Brocks and a Mr Tod.
Beatrix may also have known some of the Nutkins families in person. A butcher called Nutkins, who lived at Gloucester Road in South Kensington, might have supplied the Potters with meat – or literary inspiration!