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THE FORGOTTEN GRAVE OF MUSIC HALL SUPERSTAR.

Byline: MIKE LOCKLEY Staff Reporter mike.lockley@trinitymirror.com

HE NAME on the crumbling, weathered gravestone is hidden by moss.

TClose to the west door of St Philip's Cathedral, in the heart of Birmingham, it is yet another forgotten memorial in a parade ground of ageing plots.

But the nondescript resting place hides the true importance of the individual below. The thousands who walk past it each day are oblivious that there lies a showbiz great, a woman who became a true superstar of the musical hall era.

It is the grave of Nanette Stocker - a showbiz giant despite measuring only 3ft 3ins tall.

Nanette, who toured the country as "the smallest woman in the kingdom", died on May 4, 1819, while in the city to perform.

She had a mass following, and died at the age of 39.

The burial site hammers home the need to refurbish all Birmingham graves of historic significance, says city historian Carl Chinn.

"The question of taking action over Nanette Stocker's grave is a difficult one," explains Carl.

"There are a lot of graves that should be spruced up. Which ones do we do, and which ones don't we do? There are so many.

"There are graves of First World War veterans that need tidying up.

"We need a campaign that would see all graves of historic significance refurbished sympathetically and sensitively."

The words on Nanette's grave are badly worn, but just about legible.

The inscription reads: "In memory of Nanette Stocker, who departed this life May 4th, 1819, aged 39 years.

"The smallest woman ever in this kingdom.

"Possessed with every accomplishment, only 33 inches high. A native of Austria." Nanette was an undisputed A-List celebrity, satisfying the public's thirst for the unusual.

For years, she was the headline act at Birmingham's Onion Fair, a vibrant, once-ayear carnival held in Aston. Born in Austria, Nanette began touring continental Europe in 1797 and hit the big time when she teamed up with Germany's 3ft 6ins John Hauptman a year later.

In their act, Nanette played the pianoforte, Hauptman the violin - and the couple would also waltz together, to the delight of audiences.

In her blog The Regency World, Lesley-Anne McLeod wrote: "Stocker and Hauptman were both 'encouraged' into public performance as young people by their guardians.

"They were talented musicians and one can only hope that they found satisfaction in impressing audiences with their musical performances.

"They toured Europe for many years, and there is a 16-page booklet, of the era, in existence, The History And Travels Of The Little Nanette Stocker And Of John Hauptman.

"It would make interesting reading. Nannette was reported to enjoy knitting and needlework, and when she died in 1819 she was buried in the churchyard of St Philip's, Birmingham."

We need a campaign that would see all graves of historic significance refurbished sympathetically and sensitively historian Carl Chinn

CAPTION(S):

| Musical hall star Nanette Stocker, whose grave (pictured) is close to the west door of St Philip's Cathedral in Birmingham. Inset, her stage partner John Hauptman

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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 21, 2018
Words:508
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