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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

This Classic Horse-Drawn Hearse is Spectacularly Spooky And Headed for Auction


Copyright © 2016 Bold Ride LLC.

Want to make a bold statement once you’ve ‘moved on’? Well, you could either leave your considerable wealth to a distant cousin instead of your beloved children, or you could take the ride to your final resting place in this vintage horse drawn hearse. It’s heading to Bonhams auction on March 20th.

This particular hearse was built by Marston & Co around 1880 in Birmingham, England, a gritty, gloomy place during the Industrial Revolution, also the hometown of the greatest rock band of all time, Black Sabbath. Birmingham rose to prominence during the Victorian Era as a center of commerce, and it wasn’t long before the city was second only to London in population. Lots of people living in one place in 19th century England, unfortunately, meant lots of funerals, and lots of business for coachbuilders.


Marston & Co were known for their ornate detail work, which is clear with this example. It looks as if this thing rolled right off the set of a big budget Hollywood period piece, and onto the auction block, save for the missing roof lining inside. Something tells me that any future passengers won’t mind.

Everything else is in order, the faux hammercloth remains intact, the pierced top rails, finials, and corner posts are all original, and accounted for. The hearse was purchased on from an undertaker in Ireland in 1967, and exported to the UK in the early 1970s where it has remained, unused, and in climate controlled storage.


The dawn of the automobile meant the closing of the window for horse drawn hearses in the early 20th century. Marston & Co remained in business until 1935, and by the end they too were building “horseless hearses”.

Would they have ever thought that one of their builds would be up on the auction block at Bonhams, and possibly put back into service as horse drawn funerals have once again become stylish?

Doubtful, but given the attention to detail in the coachwork, and society’s love of an outlandish funeral, it’s quite possible they knew understood the boldness of their work.