Meryon of Rye – Killed in The Alps

Meryon of Rye Killed in The Alps

By Frank Palmer

Just inside the North Door of Rye Church attached to the wall are a number of brass plaques, memorials to members of the Meryon family who are buried elsewhere.

One of these is to the memory of Lewis Kennard Meryon who was killed in a mountaineering accident; it states that Meryon was a scholar of Pembroke College, Cambridge. Assistant Mathematical Master, Gresham’s School, Holt, Norfolk, son of Lewis and Mary Genevieve Meryon and grandson of Lewis Haddock and Harriet Mercy Meryon.

On Tuesday 30th. August 1904 four Englishmen Messrs. Lewis Kennard Meryon, T. L. Winterbotham, W. G. Clay and the Rev. W. F. Wright left the ‘Victor Emmanuel’ climbers hut, intending to climb the Grand Paradis or Gran Paradiso, the highest point of the Granian Alps at 4061 m. (13,324 ft.).

The mountain had first been climbed in 1860 by two Englishmen and two guides from Chamonix, and is one of 61 mountains over 4000 metres in the Alps.

The party had been climbing in the area for some days before and the intention was to cross over the mountain and descend to the town of Cogne.


Meryon of Rye - Killed in The Alps
Meryon of Rye – Killed in The Alps

A guide at the hut warned them to be careful as there was much ice on the ridge.

They apparently reached the summit without incident and were seen later roped together with Meryon leading. They were seen again by a party transversing the mountain in the opposite direction.

Whilst they were expected to arrive late at Cogne no anxiety was felt when they did not turn up, as it was thought they had taken a different line of decent into the Val Savaranche, but nothing was heard of them on Wednesday.

Victor Emmanual Mountain Shelter
Victor Emmanual Mountain Shelter


A search party was organised by the Mayor and the Cure’, a mountaineer who took an active part in the search of the ridge on that side of the mountain, without finding any trace of the missing climbers. Another search party found their bodies on the glacier on Friday. It seemed they were attempting to find a route down to the glacier but were obliged to retrace their steps due to the icy conditions of the rocks, when the accident happened. They had fallen some 1700 ft. All four are buried in the churchyard in the village of Degioz.

Grandfather Lewis Haddock Meryon had been a wine and spirit merchant in Church Street Rye [now North side of Church Square].

“Rye’s Own” April 2006

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