Grave of Caroline Maria Applebee

Grave of Caroline Maria ApplebeeGrave of Caroline Maria Applebee

In the cemetery at St. Mary’s at the Walls, there is the grave to a very talented artist. Her name was Caroline Maria Applebee and she was born in London in 1786, the daughter of John Benjamin Applebee, a rector, and Grace Lukyn. She spent almost her entire life in Colchester, however very little is known about her life other than through her art work, which was of the highest of standards. Her surviving work, comprising over 300 watercolours and pencil drawings, are now in the hands of the Royal Horticultural Society where they have been preserved.

As to the reasons why she chose to live in Colchester, we will never know, however her father was the rector of St. Mary’s at Easthorpe, not too far away which may be one factor. The other being the botanical gardens which were located at the top of East Hill. In 1852, these gardens became the housing development of Castle Road, Roman Road, Rose Terrace, Garden Terrace, the roads built over the footprint of the old garden path layout. These gardens would have given Maria access to an array of plant species to paint. She is also known to have kept some plants at her home at 53 Crouch Street, where she was listed on the 1841 census. The 1851 census showed her living at the same address, along with five servants, with her occupation as a ‘lady of merit’. It’s not known if she sold her artwork in order to make a living or inherited money, enabling her to live a quiet life painting.

During her life she met the notable writer Charles Lamb who wrote an acrostic poem for her which was first published in 1830. Maria never married and died on 16th September 1854 aged 68 years. She was buried on the east side of the cemetery at St. Mary’s at the Walls, with her grave still visible today.

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