Eliza Ann Howard Memorial - press release

New memorial to Eliza Ann Howard in Letchworth churchyard

It is always pleasing when a sustained campaign to celebrate an unsung woman bears fruit, so Letchworth Local History Research Group (LLHRG) is thrilled to report that there is now a memorial stone to Ebenezer Howard’s first wife, Eliza Ann, in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Old Letchworth, where she was buried.

It’s always been known that Lizzie, as she was informally known, was buried in the churchyard following her funeral in the tiny church on 12th November 1904, but the plot wasn’t marked, partly because the Howard family couldn’t afford a stone grave marker and partly because, as Ebenezer told their children, “she is not there”. He felt that her spirit was elsewhere, after many years of ill health and hard work, caring for her husband and their four children.

Eliza Ann Bills was born in Nuneaton in 1853 and married Ebenezer in 1879. She was a great enthusiast for the garden city idea and spoke and campaigned extensively for the cause. Ebenezer may have been a visionary and a networker, but he wasn’t a well organised man, so it was his wife who contributed so much practical work to turn his ideas into a reality. Eliza Ann was remembered as “an adorable woman, witty and bright with a sweet tolerant nature.”

Back in 2018 LLHRG researched Lizzie Howard’s life and gained the approval of the Howard family and of the church authorities to install a simple memorial. Then fundraising began, and thanks to contributions large and small we were able to commission a fitting stone. On 22nd January 2023 a gathering of supporters, donors, and family members saw the official installation and blessing of the memorial; you can find it alongside the path through the churchyard on the north side, parallel with Letchworth Lane. Please do visit it and reflect on the support which Eliza Ann Howard gave to the garden city movement and particularly to our own Letchworth Garden City.

Philippa Parker

Leader, Letchworth Local History Research Group, a constituent group of Letchworth Arts &

Leisure Group

28th February 2023