Mystery of tiny headstone found in St Leonards woodland

Sid Saunders came across a headstone for a pet rabbit in Marline Wood dated 1882. SUS-170701-133306001
Sid Saunders came across a headstone for a pet rabbit in Marline Wood dated 1882. SUS-170701-133306001

A photographer who stumbled across an unusual headstone in St Leonards’ woodland is attempting to find out more about its origins.

Sid Saunders, from Hollington, was walking through the woods when he made a bizarre discovery in the undergrowth - a 134-year-old headstone for a rabbit.

Sid Saunders came across a headstone for a pet rabbit in Marline Wood dated 1882. SUS-170701-133233001

Sid Saunders came across a headstone for a pet rabbit in Marline Wood dated 1882. SUS-170701-133233001

Sid explains: “I lost my wife three-and-a-half years ago, so I started doing my old hobbies - a lot of walking and photography.

“On this particular day two years ago, walking in Marline Wood, just off Queensway, I noticed a bit of concrete just poking out of the undergrowth.

“I pushed my foot against it and it would not move, so I moved the undergrowth and released it was a little headstone.”

The stone was filthy and overgrown with moss, so the following day Sid returned to Marline Wood to clean it up.

Sid Saunders came across a headstone for a pet rabbit in Marline Wood dated 1882. SUS-170701-133221001

Sid Saunders came across a headstone for a pet rabbit in Marline Wood dated 1882. SUS-170701-133221001

He said: “It says on there ‘In memory of the little Duchie’ which tells me it’s part of the Dutch rabbit family.

“It’s obvious the family had money to buy a headstone.

“It must have been part of the estate there.”

The headstone includes an image of a rabbit and the inscription shows that ‘Duchie’ was born in August 1869 and died in December 1882.

Although 13 years does sound like a remarkably long time for a rabbit to survive, experts say well cared for rabbits who live indoors can live into their teens.

Sid returned to the site recently to once again clean up the tiny headstone.

He said: “It’s something for this 73-year-old man to keep his brain active.”

This year Sid says he wants to do some research in a bid to find out more about the family who left this tiny headstone behind.

The Marline Valley Local Nature Reserve, which includes Marline Wood, is owned by Hastings Borough Council and managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust.

* Pictures taken by Sarah Lawler.