Caroline (Cara) Frances Eleanor Spurgeon, professor of English Literature at London University and a Chaucer scholar and author of “Shakespeare’s Imagery” (1935), lived at Alciston with Lilian Clapham, her companion since 1896, and that the women were visited every summer by the dean of Barnard College, Virginia Gildersleeve. On October 24, 1931 Dean Gildersleeve gave the house to Caroline Spurgeon. When Lilian died in 1935 Caroline erected a gravestone with a very bold and unequivocal message to the world: “In loving memory of Lillian Mary Clapham of Alciston, a good friend to this village, who died 21 December 1935, aged 84 years. This stone is placed here by Caroline F.E. Spurgeon in grateful remembrance of forty years of steadfast friendship and of happy life together.” In 1936 Spurgeon left Alciston for the sake of her health and lived with Gildersleeve in Arizona until her death there, on her 73rd birthday, October 24, 1942. Caroline died in the middle of WWII – her dying wish was for her ashes to be buried alongside Lilian’s at Alciston Parish Church (off A27, Alciston Court, Alciston, East Sussex, BN26 6UW) and this Virginia did when the war was over. Spurgeon’s ashes were buried at Alciston, in a grave next to that of Lilian Clapham, on August 14, 1946.
Timeline & Places:
• 1871: born.
• 1925 to 1935: lived at Old Postmans Cottage, The Village, Alciston, Polegate BN26 6UW, Regno Unito, sharing with Caroline Spurgeon.
• December 21, 1935: died. Buried at Alciston churchyard, Alciston, Polegate BN26 6UR, Regno Unito. Buried alongside: Caroline Spurgeon (October 24, 1869 – October 24, 1942).