A fitting bespoke memorial for Hollywood actor’s ancestors

A specially engraved bespoke memorial headstone has been erected in York Cemetery in memory of York born Hollywood Actor, Mark Addy’s great grandparents nearly 100 years after their death.

The headstone was been designed and hand crafted by J. Rotherham Stonemasons in response to a story about the family on the BBC2 documentary ‘A life without work’ which showed in October 2010. Records showed that John Thomas Addy, Mark’s great grandfather and his family were all buried in an unmarked plot in York cemetery as they could not afford the headstone.

BBC2 documentary

Adrian Buckley, Monumental Manager at J. Rotherham, Stonemasons said: “We heard the story about the Addy family on TV and we saw Mark Addy looking at bare patch of ground where his ancestors were buried. We wanted to help them to create a lasting tribute to their family.

“This is a story about four generations of a family and we are a fourth generation business so we can relate to the historical significance.

“It is an amazing rags to riches story and we are delighted to be a small part of it.

The headstone is made from Portland Stone and uses traditional hand carving methods. We made it that way so that it would fit in with the other stones of that period in the cemetery.”

The BBC programme featured Benjamin Seebhom Rowntree’s pioneering work which documented how people were living in poverty despite York being a relatively wealthy city. The programme discovered a diary kept by Mark’s great grandfather when he was impoverished and struggling to find work.

Hollywood Actor

Mark Addy lives a life as far removed from that of his unemployed great-grandfather as you can imagine. Mark Addy is a successful film actor whose breakthrough film was The Full Monty, about unemployed people in Yorkshire. He played Friar Tuck in the highly acclaimed Robin Hood blockbuster and recently starred in the hit BBC1 series Atlantis as Hercules (inset).

“It is an amazing story”, he said. “We are grateful that we have a lasting memorial for our ancestors.

“We were thrilled when Rotherham’s offered to design a unique stone for our family.

“The whole process has been wonderful and the end result has completely exceeded all our expectations. It is the last page of the story and I am pleased we can give something back.”

John Thomas Addy, describes Sydney his son, aged 12 as underweight but healthy. Another entry has him cutting up some old boots to repair his son’s footwear as he could not find work. When Ian Addy, Mark’s father was shown the diary, not surprisingly he found the details very moving.

He still lives in York and spent his working life as a glazier in York Minster. His own father, Sydney, had a steady job at Rowntrees and Ian had no idea his family’s history had been so carefully recorded or that his father grew up in such harsh conditions.

Ian said: “It’s just an age that’s gone by and looking through a keyhole and seeing that, I realise how lucky we are now and how much things have changed for the better.

“The memorial stone is really beautiful; I have enjoyed seeing how it has evolved through from the design to the crafting of this magnificent finished piece of work. Our family has been in York for centuries and this is a really fitting tribute.

“We are really grateful to Rotherhams,” he said.