Two years on, Spike Milligan's grave is still without headstone

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The Independent Online

Spike Milligan's desire to have his grave inscribed with the satirical words, "I told you I was ill", appeared to many a fitting epitaph to one of the country's greatest comics. Yet, more than two years after Milligan died, his last resting place still has no headstone.

Spike Milligan's desire to have his grave inscribed with the satirical words, "I told you I was ill", appeared to many a fitting epitaph to one of the country's greatest comics. Yet, more than two years after Milligan died, his last resting place still has no headstone.

Only a small angel on a plinth and a few flowers mark the spot in St Thomas's churchyard in Winchelsea, East Sussex.

Father Fred George, the locum priest at the church, said: "I would not know which one of the graves was his."

The locum priest, who explained that there had been no application for a headstone in the six months since he arrived at the church, insisted it was not unusual or significant. "There are many graves in the church yard that don't have memorials," he added. But, for James Milligan, the comic's youngest son, the lack of stone is a sore point. He said: "It's a total disgrace that there is no headstone at my father's grave. I've been trying for a year and a half to get one erected but with no success."

James, 27, whose mother, Margaret Maughan, had an eight-year affair with the Goons creator, only met his father at the age of 16 and remains estranged from most of the rest of the family. He claimed he was "frozen out" after his father's death and not invited to the funeral.

Earlier reports said that Milligan's third wife and widow, Shelagh, 59, was desperate to erect a fitting memorial but was awaiting approval from step-children, but James insisted his efforts to get a headstone in place had been blocked by the immediate family.

Milligan, who died aged 83 in February 2002, left three children from his first marriage, one from his second and two offspring born out of wedlock, and feuds broke out over his will. Last year, it was reported that the row over the grave had descended into farce when the angel, left by James, had been removed and replaced by a plain wooden cross which the local paper described as "more fitting for a pauper than the clown prince of comedy". The angel was later returned.

Fans of the comic think it is time a fitting memorial was put in place. Bill Horsman, the chairman of the Goon Show Preservation Society, said yesterday: "We are very sad about the whole situation. Spike was a genius and he deserves better recognition on his grave but only the family can sort this out."

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