The sisters at rest


THE BODIES of four of the five nuns on whom The Wreck of the Deutschland is based were brought ashore at Harwich and then taken to London.

Their funeral took place in Stratford, on the city’s eastern approaches, where Gerard Manley Hopkins himself had been born four decades earlier. His house no longer exists – a large branch of Morrisons now sprawls over the spot – but the church is still there.

The wreck had become a massive cause célèbre and the service was taken by no less a figure than Cardinal Manning, the leader of the English Catholics. A large crowd then accompanied the cortege to the cemetery at Leytonstone.

Their grave is still there – and if you've ever taken the Central Line eastwards on the London Underground from Leyton, you’ve seen the tombstone from afar.

The cemetery seems to be better known among local historians for the graves of Mary Jane Kelly, victim of Jack the Ripper, and of several of Alfred Hitchcock’s family. But the custodian is well aware of the significance of the nuns’ tombstone and happy to point it out.

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