The bones, we had. But there was more:
The unmarked grave of Joseph Merrick — who is better known as the Elephant Man — has been traced after nearly 130 years, it has been claimed.
Merrick had a skeletal and soft tissue deformity which saw him as a freak show attraction, then a medical curiosity.
His skeleton has been preserved at the Royal London Hospital since his death. But author Jo Vigor-Mungovin says she has now discovered Merrick’s soft tissue was buried in the City of London Cemetery after he died in 1890.
No, they didn’t dig him up. But:
Mrs Vigor-Mungovin, who has written a biography of Merrick, said a story about his soft tissue being buried had not been followed up due to the number of graveyards in use at the time.
“I was asked about this and off-hand I said ‘It probably went to the same place as the [Jack the] Ripper victims’, as they died in the same locality. Then I went home and really thought about it and started looking at the records of the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium near Epping Forest, where two Ripper victims are buried.
“I decided to search in an eight-week window around the time of his death and there, on page two, was Joseph Merrick.”
The actual plot has been located:
Initially, the area was narrowed down to a communal memorial garden, but Mrs Vigor-Mungovin said a specific plot had now been identified.
“The authorities said a small plaque could be made to mark the spot, which would be lovely. Hopefully, we can soon get a memorial in his hometown of Leicester.”
Good. Merrick deserves to be remembered; most people with severe deformities are trotted up and down the stage and then utterly forgotten.