Not originally from Norfolk, she rests in Rosary Cemetery in Norwich. And she had quite a life.

Born into a circus family, Sarah Russell (neé O’Brien) was the daughter of celebrated equestrian Archibald O’Brien. Like her other family members, she was an accomplished ‘bareback rider’, a skill which took her to the United States where she married William Russell.

Their children were sent to school in England and Sarah died at just aged 30 in 1899, apparently suffering appendicitis on a trip back to visit them.

Other records suggest she died in the US but was interred here…

So how did she end up buried in Norwich? Good question. With no obvious family connections to the area, perhaps her children were at school nearby? If you know any more, we’d love to hear…

Her imposing memorial depicts a broken column – a Victorian symbol for a life cut short, draped with Nottingham lace (which is, we are told, where she did originate from), and a harp, that once had strings attached.

Most of this story was told to us by the fabulous Diane from the Friends of the Rosary Cemetery on a recent tour we did as part of Norfolk Heritage Open Days. With a wealth of knowledge, she is an incredibly interesting and passionate person to speak to about all things related to the cemetery.