Story of a princess buried in Shoreham is unearthed

Russian Princess
Russian Princess

NESTLING quietly in the graveyard of a Shoreham church is the tombstone of a Russian princess.

Curiosity has been sparked by this unusual tombstone which rests in the grounds of St Nicolas, Old Shoreham.

After a thorough investigation the story of this princess’s life and why she was buried in Shoreham will be revealed in an evening presentation by the church.

Lydia Yavorska, Princess Bariatinsky, died in Hove 92 years ago. She was a Russian actress who stormed the English stage, a fashion icon and a suffragette. Her life is one of drama and intrigue.

John Simmons, treasurer to PCC St Nicolas’, took on the investigation of Lydia’s life and is currently translating her biography.

He said: “I thought I would find out more about this gravestone as people were really curious. Lydia played Anna Karenina in one of the first stage versions of the book and made it famous in the UK.”

Lydia married a Russian prince whose family disapproved of the union. They set up a theatre in Russia in the 1900’s and performed avant garde plays which didn’t go down too well, so they moved to the UK.

Her life is a patchwork story of divorce, marriage, glamorous theatre performances and sudden death-defying escapes.

She re-married to John Pollock who buried her in St Nicolas church.

John Simmons said: “We think he chose this church to bury her in because post WW1, Shoreham Beach was the Hollywood of its time and popular place for theatricals to visit. Lydia was fond of the south coast and I imagine he believed the church to be a beautiful place for her to rest.”

The presentation is on September 14 at 7pm, tickets are £3. Email: or call 01273 454006.

John added: “We will bring the era to life with music and photos and satisfy people’s curiosity about this unusual tombstone and extraordinary story.”