Amelia Rowe Ward was born in 1860 in Valparaiso, the youngest of nine children of American parents, Alfred and Virginia Worthington Heath Ward. Her father was the United States Consul in Chile.
She married Lt Col Woodford Woodforde-Finden, a brigadier and surgeon who served in India with the 11th Bengal Cavalry, the 2nd Gurkhas. He died in 1916 after which Amy and her mother moved from India to London. Amy died just three years later on 13 March 1919.
Amy studied composition, and her
early works were published under her maiden name. She is best known for her set of Indian Love
Lyrics with words by Lawrence Hope, a non-de-plume for Adele
Florence Nicolson. Of the four
Song proved an instant and lasting hit. The Indian Love
Lyrics were originally self-published in 1902 but due to their
popularity, were later published by Boosey & Co. Kashmiri
Song became one of the highest selling pieces of sheet music
Amy's music perfectly captured the mood and morals of the time, and in recent years, her works have enjoyed a new appreciation, perhaps because of the imagery and atmosphere invoked by her sweeping melodies and rich harmonies. Amy's world was far away from the villages of North Yorkshire, but somehow, her music is not so distant or and is still very English.
Heighes' youngest son, Revd John Woodforde, sometime rector of North Curry in Somerset, married Rebecca Hamilton and had five children. Their eldest son was Dr Robert Woodforde who married Sarah Wright. Their eldest son, Dr John Woodforde of Bridgwater, also in Somerset, had four children of whom the youngest was Melliora Woodforde. She married George Corfield Finden sometime of Gloucester Terrace, Hyde Park, London.
Their only son was Lt Col Woodford Woodforde-Finden (1846-1916), a brigadier and surgeon, who married Amy Ward. He served with the 11 Bengal Cavalry, the 2nd Gurkhas. He died on 27 April 1916 after which Amy and her mother moved back to London.
Amy died on 13 March 1919. She was buried in the churchyard of St Thomas à Becket Parish Church, Hampsthwaite, Yorkshire. Her association with the village came through her stepson, Eric, who was disabled and lived in Hampsthwaite in the care of the local doctor. When he died in 1913, he was buried in the churchyard. His father, Amy's husband, Colonel Woodforde-Finden, is also buried here.
The monument takes the form of a recumbent figure of the composer, worked in marble by the London sculptor George Wade. The head is crowned with a laurel wreath, and at each corner are cherubs representing the angels who 'bore her to heaven'. Scenes from some of her songs are depicted on the sides of the monument with imagery of the Shwe Dagon Burmese pagoda from the Pagoda of Flowers. At the unveiling on 15th April 1923, the Harrogate Municipal Orchestra played a medley of her compositions.
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(Image of monument © Ian Hadan, Hampsthwaite Village website.)