A feature of family undertakers’ websites is the inordinate amount of space given to dynastic history replete with sepia photos of bowlegged ancestors swathed in fog walking fierce-eyed so far as you can see in front of a Humber Bumble (or whatever).
Good breeding isn’t something we necessarily defer to any more, neither, in a meritocratic society, is hereditary an impressive attribute. We’d all rather be fixed by a dentist who had chosen to be a dentist and worked hard to become a dentist, than by a sixth-generation dentist who’d had the drill passed to her by her parent.
Of course, the point of all this genealogy is to exude stability, rootedness and an accumulation of arcane knowledge. It seems to confer majesty and offer a guarantee of excellence.
And it would — if vocational zeal were embedded in DNA. But of course it’s not. Which is why a number of family funeral businesses are actually very poorly and complacently run, the foundational values having evaporated.
All that matters to funeral shoppers is whether a funeral director is any good. Now.
So it is a matter of both relief and some appreciative amusement to see the fifth generation business AB Walker & Son of Reading summarise its family history as follows:
Established as coach masters in 1826 and obtained outright by the Marlow based Walker family who moved to Reading in the 1870’s, the definitive history of the company would take up most of this website. Suffice to say there has been the full spectrum of conflicts, accidents, unexpected deaths, unexplained births, intrigue and captivating loyalty that would explain why the firm exists as it does today.
As with all families, each generation brings something new and now it is the turn of the fifth generation to act as custodians of the business. As the saying goes – the rest is history…