When Maltese terrier Cherry died of old age in 1881, her owners decided that Hyde Park would make a fitting burial place – after all, they had spent many hours walking there. Cherry’s owners were good friends with Mr Winbridge, the gatekeeper at Victoria Lodge, who agreed to bury the departed pet in the lodge garden.
Shortly afterwards, the dog belonging to actress Louisa Fairbrother (the wife of Prince George, the then Duke of Cambridge) was run over by horse and carriage. The royally-named Prince was also interred in Mr Winbridge’s back garden, and soon much of the garden was given over to the pet cemetery. The pets were reputedly sewn up in canvas bags, with Mr Winbridge himself carried out the burials. Eventually, over 300 animals were laid to rest in the cemetery before space ran out.
The tiny gravestones all bear the name of the pets – some would still be acceptable today (Prince, Spot, Freddy, Leo), whilst many others are an intriguing insight into Victorian and Edwardian concepts of what made a good pet name (Scum, Smut, Wobbles, Bogie). Some gravestones also have saccharin phrases of grief (“for seven years we were such friends”), Shakespearean quotes (“his little life was rounded with a sleep”) or even descriptions of how the beloved animals met their demises (“poisoned by a cruel Swiss”).