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Joseph and Neville Chamberlain

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 31st 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 8th 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 2nd 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 18th 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 9th 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

Further Reading  

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

"Joseph Chamberlain" by Enoch Powell, 1977

Memorial

31st March 1916

Field

Politician; statesman

Location

Nave

Memorial Type

Grave; bust

Material Type

Marble

Joseph and Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2018 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Joseph and Neville Chamberlain
Joseph Chamberlain memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2018 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

I feel very privileged to work here. I take so much pride in working for a beautiful place like the Abbey, it’s unique.

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Alex - Abbey Marshal

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