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Essex Field Club
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EFC Centre at Wat Tyler Country ParkWe are closed due to the Covid-19 situation, but we are otherwise normally open to the public at our centre at Wat Tyler Country Park every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday 11am-4pm, check. We are also normally open on Wednesdays 10am-4pm.

Geology Site Account

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Grave of Edward Charlesworth, SAFFRON WALDEN, Uttlesford District, TL54693847, Historical site only

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Site name: Grave of Edward Charlesworth

Grid reference: TL 5469 3847

Brief description of site:

In the north-west corner of the town cemetery on Radwinter Road (Compartment 18, Grave 36) is the grave of Edward Charlesworth (1813-1893), an eminent but controversial Victorian geologist who coined the term Red Crag.


Edward Charlesworth (1813-1893)

Edward Charlesworth was one of the most colourful characters to be associated with the geology of Essex. Outspoken and argumentative, he was often regarded as aggressive but there is no doubt that he was a remarkable man and the greatest fossil entrepreneur and geological curator of the nineteenth century.

He spent the early part of his life in Suffolk, becoming curator of Ipswich Museum in 1834. He became an expert on the East Anglian Crag deposits and their fossils, dividing them into various divisions and thereby inventing the term Red Crag. Later in his life he spent a long period as keeper of the Yorkshire Museum and then moved to London where he became a dealer in fossils and editor of various journals. In this capacity his opinions often clashed with those of some of the leading geologists of the day, sometimes involving him in lengthy disputes.

Charlesworth was also an authority on chalk and flints and it was perhaps with this in mind that he retired to Saffron Walden where, in 1882-3 he arranged and identified specimens in Saffron Walden Museum. In the last twenty years of his life he suffered from illness which confined him to bed for most of the time with boxes of fossils and manuscripts heaped around his bed, almost filling the room. A friend estimated that there was a ton and a half of flint fossils in his house in Museum Street at the time of his death.

The grave of Edward Charlesworth. Photo: G.Lucy


Grave of Edward Charlesworth
Grave of Edward Charlesworth

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Reference: Anon 1894a, Anon 1894b, Knell 2000.

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