People buried here
Fancy goods and graves: Otto Berens
Berens was a Prussian-born linen draper who lived in Brixton, South London. Wealthy Victorians were very fond of luxurious items, which were often imported and traded by the East India Co. They would go to Berens, Blumberg & Co at Cannon St, London to buy items such dyed ostrich feathers and soft kid gloves.
The invention of new aniline dyes meant that Victorians were able to cut a dash in some very bright colours. Like most wealthy and socially conscious business people in the C19th Berens commissioned the fashionable architect E M Barry to design his elaborate tomb.
Go and take a look at the granite base, marble columns, carved Portland stone capitols and statues by the sculptor Thomas Earp. The tiles are by Minton pottery, and show the Berens arms, a bear holding a sword. To the left of Beren’s tomb is that of Thomas de La Garde Grissell
. His two sons, Henry and Martin, who are also buried in the vault, were proprietors of the Regents Canal Ironworks, 1841 – 67.
They helped construct iron bridges for Robert Stephenson, gates and railings for Buckingham Palace and the British Museum, the earliest London letter boxes, ironwork for the Covent Garden opera house, and for the Houses of Parliament. Their tomb is, not surprisingly perhaps, made from heavily galvanised cast iron. It would have been painted in bright colours, the paint has mainly gone but the iron is not at all rusted.