Update 14/10/2017

The rededication ceremony for Robert Howlett was a day to remember.  A true celebration of his short life, a gathering of well wishers from all corners of England and the sun shone on the church of St Peter and St Paul, Wendling.

There is no precedent for a rededication of this type, so Reverend Julia Hemp created a beautiful tribute blending past and present together.  The grave now sits securely, his name visible and is able to rest in peace.

Rededication 1

More reports here:




Update 14/09/2017

One month until the rededication of Robert Howlett’s grave.  Here is a new view of the restoration.

DSC_2307 (1194x1280)


Update 07/08/2017

Report on British Photographic History website HERE


Update 04/08/2017

The re-engraving of the inscription on Robert Howlett’s grave has been completed.  Stonemason Paul Miles used expert craftsmanship, authentic to 1858, to bring the existing but obscured text back to life.




Update 02/08/2017

Robert Howlett’s 159 year old grave has now been restored. A huge thanks to Saxon Monumental Craft for their incredibly hard work done in a very respectful way.  Thanks also to all the donors who made it possible.



Update 25/07/2017

In response to several kind donations offered after the closing date for Justgiving, a new Justgiving page has been started for donations which are still welcomed.  All funds will be used for the restoration, rededication and future care of Robert Howlett’s grave.


Update 26/03/2017

The rededication ceremony for Robert Howlett will be held on Saturday 14th October 2017.   All are invited to register interest in attending through the Royal Photographic Society Historical Group at the following link :


The service will be held at 2pm at St Peter and St Paul Church, Wendling, and will be a service of celebration and remembrance.  Light refreshments will be available at Longham Village Hall afterwards.



Update 24/01/2017

The project to restore Robert Howlett’s grave has raised the necessary funding to proceed with restoration in August.  This will involve replacement of the brickwork with a pre cast solid base and re-engraving of the existing text which is currently obscured from view.  The text is also contained within the church records.

A rededication will take place in October assembling many involved in the success of this endeavour.  Sincere thanks to all who have contributed to making this possible.

Howlett Grave RPS

This is the final resting place of Robert Howlett, buried on 7th December 1858.

In 2015 I wanted to visit his grave to pay my respects to a pioneering photographer who remains unknown by many, yet produced the defining image of the 19th Century embodied by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Locating his grave was to take unanticipated levels of detective work, unlike many of his Victorian contemporaries whose names are part of photographic legend.   So it was that, on a cold October day in 2015 I laid a bunch of fresh roses on an old grave in one of the most remote churchyards in England.  It was almost completely unidentifiable with its heavy stone plinth supported by uneven brickwork and was indeed a sorry sight, anonymous and abandoned to the Norfolk wind and rain.  Having contacted the helpful vicar I already knew that this was the final resting place of this young photographer who died as he was looking forward to the greatest years of his professional life.

I resolved to restore his grave, bring his photographs back to life and his story to be told.  I discovered that his clergyman father had installed an ornate window at this church in 1858 celebrating its renovation, but ended the same year by attending his own son’s funeral at the eastern end of the graveyard. His sorrow was evident in the choice of large coffin shaped memorial displaying an inscription now completely obscured, accompanied by a brass dedication inside the church, “To The Memory of a Beloved Son Robert Howlett”.

Quotations have been obtained for the replacement of the brick base and re-engraving of the text which is almost invisible but documented in the church records.  If the funds can be raised, the work is scheduled for August 2017 and hopefully followed by a rededication ceremony, celebrating his 27 year life.

All donors to this project are part of a unique demonstration of care for the preservation of Howlett’s memory, and each has contributed in cherishing the memory of a young man who was denied two thirds of his life.  We are all recipients of the legacy left by Howlett and his contemporaries with each subsequent photographic generation building on the solid foundation stone they laid.

Updates will follow at each stage.