Joseph and Neville Chamberlain
Field: Politician; statesman
Location in the Abbey: Nave
Type of memorial: Grave; bust
Type of material: Marble

In the north west tower chapel at the west end of the nave of Westminster Abbey is a white marble pedestal with a life size bust of politician Joseph Chamberlain. This is by sculptor John Tweed and was unveiled on 31 March 1916 by Lord Balfour. The Dean of Westminster had offered burial in the Abbey for Joseph but his family declined saying they wished him to be buried "among his own people" which was at Key Hill cemetery, Birmingham.The simple inscription reads:

JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN

1836-1914

He was born on 8 July 1836 in Camberwell in London, one of several children of Joseph Chamberlain (died 1874), cordwainer, and his wife Caroline (Harben). After education at University College London he joined the family business and became an industrialist. In 1861 he married Harriet Kenrick but she died in childbirth leaving a son Austen and daughter Beatrice. In 1868 he married Harriet's cousin Florence Kenrick and had four children, Neville, Ida, Hilda and Ethel. She died giving birth to a stillborn son. Joseph entered the House of Commons in 1876 and married his third wife in 1888, American born Mary Endicott.  He was Colonial Secretary under Lord Salisbury and Balfour and was associated with Tariff Reform and the Imperialist movement.He died on 2 July 1914. Mary married secondly William Hartley Carnegie, Sub Dean of Westminster and Rector of St Margaret's Westminster and she was buried with him in the nave in 1957.

Neville Chamberlain

He was born on 18 March 1869 at Edgbaston, Birmingham, son of Joseph and Florence, and was educated at Rugby school, which he hated, and Mason College Birmingham. He was also a leading figure in Birmingham's industrial life and had interests in social reform, ornithology and botany. In 1911 he married Anne Vere (nee Cole) and had a daughter Dorothy and son Frank. From local government he was elected to Parliament in 1918. In Baldwin's Conservative ministry he was Minister of Health and then Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was elected Prime Minister in 1937. While he was in office war was declared on Nazi Germany in 1939 after the Munich peace treaty of 1938 failed. He resigned office in May 1940 and served in the government led by Winston Churchill. He died on 9 November 1940 and his ashes are buried next to those of a former Prime Minister, Andrew Bonar Law, in the nave of Westminster Abbey. The inscription on the small stone over his grave reads:

NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN

1869-1940

PRIME MINISTER

1937-1940

 

Photos of the memorial and gravestone can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

"Joseph Chamberlain" by Enoch Powell, 1977