An Inauguration Tea Party - Thursday 26th May 2011 at 3 pm

The Winchmore Hill Friends Meeting House


It is a known fact that Luke and Mariabella Howard were both buried a few miles from Tottenham at the Friends
Meeting House at Winchmore Hill – Mariabella in February 1852, and Luke in March 1864. But for a number of years,
there has been no sign of a gravestone for either of them. However a plan of the burial ground survived which shows
the location of their graves, and also those of her parents, and some of their children. After the unveiling in 2002 of
the Blue Plaque to Luke Howard at 7 Bruce Grove, Tottenham, the idea grew that we should approach the Friends at
Winchmore Hill for permission to erect a memorial to them there. This process ground to a halt, but during the 2010
exhibition at Bruce Castle of Luke Howard’s life and work, we became aware, through the help of a local historian
Rachael Macdonald, that in fact Mariabella's gravestone was actually visible, lying flat and being used as a paving
stone for the Meeting House notice board. This gave a new impetus to the idea, and, to cut a long story short, that
stone has now been "resurrected", Luke's name and date of his death added, and it has been re-erected close to the
spot where the plan shows them to have been buried. Family members decided that this was an event worthy of
wider recognition, and so we arranged a gathering at the Meeting House

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We know that Luke Howard is renowned for his work on classifying cloud types. Those of us present at this event felt
that he left one out – nimbus winchmoriensis! This is characterised by lowering cloud base, spells of persistent rain,
interspersed with the odd clap of thunder accompanied by a downpour! So any idea of gathering in bright sunshine
round the newly carved gravestone was quickly put to rest, and we availed ourselves of the hospitality of the Friends
Meeting House. There were 20 assorted cousins, with each of Luke’s three branches represented, 6 from the world of
meteorology, 7 from the world of Local History, 3 with connections to Howards and Sons, 6 or 7 local Friends, 1 from
the Tottenham Friends,2 from Brook St Chapel in Tottenham, and 2 from the BBC. That makes 47 or 48 – call it 50-
which was a worthy gathering for Luke and Mariabella.
Linda Davis, an Elder of The Friends, led a Meeting for Worship when half a dozen or so contributions were made to
commemorate Luke in all his aspects. A few brave souls ventured out with umbrellas to inspect the stone, and then
much tea and cake was consumed over conversations. Amongst the objects brought were a matching pair of portraits
of Luke and Mariabella dating from c.1843, the famous diamond ring presented to Luke by the King of Saxony in
recognition of the relief work he and other Quakers undertook, and the Hamburg Diploma with its gold medal.
Various examples of family tree were on display, and Deborah Hedgecock brought some of the Bruce Castle Museum
wall placards about Luke. And Peter Brown from the Tottenham Friends read Goethe’s Cloud poem with its
recognition of Luke’s influence, both in the original German and in translation.
We are most grateful to the members of the Winchmore Hill Friends Meeting for their warm hospitality and help with
housekeeping matters. If you visit their website, you can read a blog reporting on the occasion -
By a very strong coincidence the BBC is preparing a Songs of Praise programme on the theme of “Weather”, and when
researching the topic of “Clouds” they heard about Luke Howard and our event and asked to be able to join us on the day
to film some additional material. The next day – with dry weather and some sunshine – they returned along with
  Gavin Pretor-Pinney of the Cloud Appreciation Society, and myself as a descendant of Luke, to record interviews with
  Aled Jones who “anchors” the programme. From this material the topic of Clouds and Luke’s work will be fitted
  into a Christian context, in such a way that we expect his person, his name and his fame will gain wider recognition.

Sunday August 28th 2011 is the expected date of transmission.

Richard Lloyd   Email:


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Article reproduced by kind permission of Richard Lloyd -May 2011


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