If ever there was a tragic life albeit all to brief Lily Evans’ was it. She was born to parents William and Emma from Nechells on July 2nd, 1884 weighing a mere 10 ounces and being no longer than 9 inches in length.

 Her Mother was something of a drinker and encouraged by a showman named Mr Baker decided to allow her new born, Lily to be put on show for up to 15 hours a day where she was given the nickname the “Lilyputian Wonder”, for this Emma Evans would be paid 30 shillings a week of which most of it would be spent on drink.

A Mrs Whitfield was employed by Baker to make clothes for Lily while she was on display. It was from Mrs Whitfield that Baker would earn his nickname “The Birmingham Barnum”. Baker declared that “Every person from her majesty down to the lowest subject should pay a visit” to see Lily.

Despite what we may think today Lily was an extremely popular attraction, being displayed every five minutes for up to 16 hours a day till as late as 10pm. Unsurprisingly this took a toll on Lily’s health. One day she suffered a convulsion and despite taking her for a drive in the open air to try and revive her and the attendance of a Doctor, Lily died. She was six weeks old.

Many people felt that Emma Evans should be charged with manslaughter, following a court case in which it emerged that she was planning to put Lily on display even in death. The coroner in an act of great charity agreed to take the matter no further if Emma promised to give her daughter a decent burial. Even this though was to become somewhat shambolic.

The undertaker displayed her tiny coffin in his window until the night before the funeral. On the day they ordered the coffin to be opened to check that Lily was inside and that her Mother had kept her word. Once the funeral procession had begun to make its way to the cemetery large crowds began to emerge, with Emma Evans being booed and jeered. It got so bad the Police had to be called to maintain order.

Lily Evans was laid to rest in Warstone Lane Cemetery in an unmarked public grave (Section B, Plot 1791)

Unburied Treasures Audio Tour – Mrs Whitfield (written and performed by Sarah Spilsbury)

Further Reading

Weekly Mail, 30th August 1884, page 8, ‘Performing A Midget to Death’, National Library of Wales

Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project


We are very excited about 'Diamonds in the Rough' a unique tour with storytelling & live performance, exploring queer history in the JQ Cemeteries for LGBT History Month.
Join Sheldon K Goodman and
Sacha Coward from @thecemeteryclub
on 12th-14th February:

#lgbthistory #valentinesday #birmingham #jewelleryquarter #jewelleryquarterbirmingham #cemetery #tour #birminghamheritage

Released to celebrate the Winter Solstice 2021, this video explores some of the nocturnal animals which make the Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries their home. They might be hard to spot, but we can often see the traces they leave behind.

Emily Doyle @oldbort is a multidisciplinary visual artist who moved to the Jewellery Quarter as a student in 2015 and never left. Her practice focuses on the biological, looking for comfort in the physicality that connects us all during changing times. Throughout lockdown, Warstone Lane and Key Hill Cemeteries have been a source of inspiration and respite for Emily and the sites have shaped her creative output through 2020 and 2021, Like many, she has found the JQ Cemeteries to be a place of grounding and reflection.

Sustainability is at the forefront of Emily's work. The textile sculptures in this film were all made using reclaimed textiles, including some sourced through Scrapstore Birmingham.

This film commission was funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, Birmingham City Council and Jewellery Quarter Development Trust

#cemetery #cemeterywildlife #fox #crochet #jewelleryquarterbirmingham

The star of the final @oldbort cemeyery seasons film of the year, which drops on 21st December has taken up residence right next to the @jqbid Christmas window at the Big Peg!
You can see this fox in his den anytime during the window trail. We can't wait for his on camera debut!
#crochet #creative #jewelleryquarter #birmingham #christmaswindow #jqchristmas #cemeterywildlife

This project is possible because of funding from: