IN A storyline that the late author Tom Sharpe would have
relished, his ashes have been buried in an unorthodox ceremony on a
windswept Northumberland hillside.
His interment in the cemetery of St Aidan's, a 12th-century
church at Throckrington, north of Hexham, took place without the
knowledge of the Rector, the Revd Michael Slade, or Newcastle
diocesan officials. "This has caused tremendous concern among the
parishioners," Mr Slade said.
Mr Sharpe's close companion, Señora Montserrat Verdaguer i
Clavera, arrived on Tuesday of last week with a Spanish TV crew and
the writer's funeral urn. Scooping out a hole with her hands, she
placed the ashes alongside a bottle of whisky, a Cuban cigar, and
the pen he used to write many of his bestsellers.
Then, on the grass, she put a picture of a young Sharpe with his
father, the Revd George Sharpe, a Unitarian minister, taken when
they lived in Throckrington in the 1940s. She also left a copy of
his book The Throwback, which is set, in part, in
In a brief eulogy, she said: "In this ancient church in
Northumberland, in which your father was buried, you will remain
for eternity. In the middle of nowhere, in an empty place,
surrounded by grass and sheep. Tom Sharpe, rest in peace for
She marked the site with a card saying: "He made people
But church officials are concerned about the legality of her
actions. "I would like to contact this lady so I can regularise the
situation and reach a satisfactory conclusion," Mr Slade said. "If
she had approached us, we would have considered it."
Not only did she not have permission, he said: the burial site
potentially impinged on another grave, and there were fears that
the partially buried urn would fall prey to foxes. Also, Mr
Sharpe's father is not buried in the graveyard.
"We are not insulted, just disappointed," he said. "It is
unfortunate. The diocese is as perplexed as we are."
The diocesan spokesman, Martin Sheppard, said: "The Archdeacon
of Lindisfarne is talking to the Registrar, and he is talking to
the Chancellor, and they hope to come up with some sort of a
Mr Sharpe, the creator of the satirical dark humour of Blott
on the Landscape and Wilt, died in June last year,
aged 85, in Llanfranc, on the Costa Brava, where he shared a home
with Señora Clavera. She said that his dying wish was to be buried
The only other person present was Charlie Harrison, a local man
who met Mr Sharpe when he visited the village 25 years ago. "Tom
loved this area," he said. "He would come back at every
opportunity, and had friends round this area. He was a wonderful
guy, but I used to say he was a bit crazy. He had some funny ideas.
He would have loved this."