Grave of Edna Gray Pritchard

menai_bridge_grave_edna_pritchardGrave of Edna Gray Pritchard (d.1935)

By kind permission of the
Principal and Fellows of
Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford

Edna was born in 1913, the only child of William and Margaret Anne Pritchard of Cadvan Villa, Menai Bridge, writes Hazel Pierce. William’s father, a merchant seaman, was sent to the Denbighshire Lunatic Asylum, prompting William to move to Liverpool, where he made his fortune. He died, aged 60, in 1930 and left a substantial sum in trust for Edna.

After working at Bangor University for a year, Edna entered Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where she studied modern languages. She is pictured (right) after her matriculation there.

In Oxford, Edna made friends with other people who enjoyed mountain walking. In 1935, she and three friends came to North Wales for a weekend. At 9am on Saturday 16 March, they began a day’s climbing on Tryfan. After the Milestone Buttress they proceeded up the North Tower, reaching the summit at 4.30pm.

They then made the fateful decision to split up. Edna and her friend John Norton Mills descended together. In the area of Heather Terrace, Edna suffered a fit and collapsed. John needed help to get her off the mountain so he wrapped her in most of his clothes. He secured her by placing a rock between her and the downward slope. He went for help but when he returned, Edna was gone.

Search parties scoured the mountain all night. Even Edna’s doctor was brought up. He was terrified on the mountain in the darkness, and was lashed to a boulder while others searched.

In the morning, Edna’s body was found 150 metres (500ft) below Heather Terrace. She had died from a head injury. She had probably regained consciousness after her fit and, being disorientated in fading light, stumbled over the edge.

Newspapers across the UK reported her death and her funeral. The cortege proceeded from her home, Pendyffryn in Upper Bangor, to Church Island, where Edna’s grave was lined with spring flowers including white tulips, yellow daffodils and arum lilies.

With thanks to Dr Hazel Pierce of The History House

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