Most people go to Biarritz to gamble or to enjoy the surfing. You’ll never guess what I was doing there so I’ll tell you. I was looking for Willy Bushnell’s grave and I spent two weeks searching every graveyard in Biarritz and Bayonne. I braved mad dogs, the midday sun and wild boar to trace every 19c burial place there is. I suffered cuts and bruises, dehydration and the loss of my precious research papers which were stolen from my car along with my camera and passport.
You may be wondering if I looked in the registers before going on this physically tough tour. I certainly did and they told me that nobody had bought a permanent plot for any Hayes or Bushnell in 1858. Unfortunately, the burial registers run from 1859 only so there was no hope there either. So I searched and searched to prove or disprove a point.
Biarritz is a pleasant place with many Victorian villas still standing and they are all strictly preserved now by order of the Mayor. I couldn’t pinpoint the precise location of the one in which Willy died but I found the census showing it was a small place occupied only by the owner, his wife and a 16 year old maid in a poorer quarter of town.
I tried hard but did I find Bushnell in Biarritz? Yes and no. All will be revealed in due course.