"The Memorial Well Cawnpore India." This exquisitely embroidered and appliqu├ęd panel, apparently of silk worked with silver, gold, grey and black silk thread, measures 18 x 23 inches, and depicts the memorial set up over the well at Cawnpore, into which the bodies of butchered women and children were thrown during the Indian uprisings of 1857. [Click on these images, and the following one, to enlarge them.]

The text around the well reads:

SACRED to the perpetual memory of a great company of Christian people - chiefly / women and children - who, near this spot, were cruelly massacred by the followers / of the rebel NANA DHOONDOPUNT of BITHOR, and cast, the dying with the dead / into the well below, on the XVth day of JULY 1857

The item is an heirloom of the Derbyshire family. Thomas Derbyshire went to India, most probably to the Cawnpore (now Kanpur) area, "between 1910 and 1920," to set up a wire company. He brought this back with him when he and his family returned to England. Although it was eventually discovered in the attic, his daughter remembers that it had had pride of place in the family home for over thirty years. Nothing could better illustrate the lasting impact that the original event had on those who remembered it, or the iconic status that the memorial achieved.

Photographs by Sue Derbyshire, who also provided the information for the text, which was put together by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.

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Created 1 April 2017; last modified 31 October 2023