Thomas Merrit

Composer and Musician

26th October 1863 - 17 April 1908


It was cold and dry, with a strong wind, on the day that I visited the grave of Thomas Merrit, the talented composer and musician from Illogan, who despite beginning life as a miner, went on to become a self-taught musician of national and international fame.
The location of the resting place of Thomas Merrit is indicated on arrowhead signs through the churchyard, but the route they take is a circuitous one: looping under the large sycamore and beech trees that thrive here


Before our visit


After our visit

and along paths of varying substrates. Despite the several people that I glimpsed walking dogs, the churchyard retains a sense of a peaceful, rural place, and it is large enough that as one moves towards the back of the churchyard - where Thomas Merrit is laid to rest - no sounds of modern life intrude.
Approaching Thomas Merrit's resting place along a muddy pathway, the beauty of his marble headstone is immediately apparent, and speaks of a man whose talents and persona were well respected in the community. The headstone is unusual in that it is made of white marble, and the capstone that covers the grave has spaces where wreaths can be placed, though one of these is now broken.
Set below some large trees, headstone had some marks on it from the overhanging branches, but as the lichen on the marble would also have been disturbed, I made no attempt to wash the cross. Fortunately, the lettering is still very fresh, and all the text can easily be discerned. Thomas is, of course, the reason for our visit here, but it is interesting to see that also commemorated here is his father (also called Thomas) who passed-away in 1875, when Thomas (junior) was aged 11 and, in addition, several siblings of Thomas (junior), including at least one sister who died before he was born, and his younger brother William, born two years after Thomas, but who died aged 12 in 1877.

I removed the loose leaves that were scattered over the monument here, and replaced some artificial flowers that had been bought by someone else and rearranged by the wind. I left the Cornish Heart resting on the edge of the monument, but so that the lettering is still easy to read, and it looked very well fitted to the setting - natural, yet a little special.

Thank you very much for choosing to send a stone to commemorate the life of the Cornish composer and musician Thomas Merrit; it was a pleasure to visit the churchyard of Illogan on your behalf.