Visit to the Grave of Luke Howard,
Quaker burial ground at Winchmore Hill
A chance meeting with descendants of Luke Howard at Bruce Castle Museum in 2010 sparked my interest in the Edmonton Hundred resident (Tottenham to be precise) known as ‘The Namer of Clouds’.
Richard Lloyd and Oliver Howard had been hoping to find Luke’s gravestone in the burial ground of the Winchmore Hill Quaker Meeting House but had almost given up. I suspected the stone was one of many now being used as paving stones (usually on their faces so the names are not visible) or broken up and placed in the rock garden, but when I casually mentioned to Richard and Oliver that I knew the location of Luke’s wife Mariabella’s stone I found myself driving them up to Winchmore Hill to see for themselves. I also thought it a good idea to contact Graham Dalling, then president of EHHS and a member of the same Quaker Meeting, who I guessed would be able to help. “Graham will know”, said everyone about him, and of course he knew where the burial plan was. That and an aerial photo I had seen of the area taken during a dry summer showing the outlines of graves had me thinking how lucky we were.
The Howard family arranged for Mariabella’s stone to be engraved with her husband’s details too and put back approximately where it originally stood but between their two graves, and in May 2011 there was a memorable ceremony in the Meeting House and outside in torrential rain, with the BBC having to return next day to film a segment of a Songs of Praise episode about weather, as the ‘nimbus winchmoriensis’ was just too much for their cameraman. Somewhere beyond the clouds Luke was laughing.
Luke died on 21 March 1864, and on 21 March 2023 members of Tottenham Clouds (led by Tottenham local historian Margaret Burr) and EHHS visited the meeting House as part of Luke’s 250th anniversary year celebrations. While there some of us also visited the grave of Graham Dalling, who had died a mere 18 months after the above celebration, and whose stone is visible from Luke’s grave.
The Edmonton Hundred is famous for its ‘firsts’ (the diode valve, television, the vacuum flask and so on), as our current president Dr Jim Lewis is keen to point out, but in Luke Howard we have the man who was the first to give names to clouds, used ever since across the world, the first to keep a long-term daily record of weather conditions, and the first to recognise the Urban Heat Island some 200 years ago, which he believed to be caused by the burning of fossil fuels – truly a man for all seasons and way ahead of his time.
Edmonton Hundred Historial Society newsletter, April 2023
Photographs by Moira Jenkins
21 March 2023 laying a wreath at the grave of Luke Howard on the anniversary of his death in 1864
On behalf of climate activists and climate scientists we are laying this cloud like wreath, to honour Luke Howard, who by his painstaking recording of weather events over decades was the first person to record the heat island effect of cities and who named the clouds.
Pamela Harling laying the wreath and giving the eulogy