In a letter to Queen Victoria dated November 22, 1861, Lord Canning talked about how the mortal remains of his beloved wife Charlotte had to be laid to rest in a “portion of the garden at Barrackpore”, because the cemeteries in Calcutta were “odious in many ways”.
“It is a beautiful spot, looking upon that reach of the grand river which she was so fond of drawing, shaded from the glare of the sun by high trees and amongst the bright shrubs and flowers in which she had so much pleasure,” wrote Lord Canning, who was appointed the first Viceroy of India after the British crown took over the administration of India from the East India Company.
Lady Canning was a prolific painter. She loved to travel. On her way back from a trip to Darjeeling, she fell ill and was diagnosed with malaria.
She was an ideal Victorian woman and her death was mourned widely in England. A grieving Lord Canning, who visited her grave every day for a while, returned to England the next year and died after a few months.
Lady Canning’s tomb was relocated to St John’s Church in Kolkata to preserve it from the effects of the river water at Barrackpore and a replica installed, but her body remains buried there.