THE grave of James Bond author Ian Fleming has been restored to its original condition with the unveiling of a new plaque.

Thieves removed an inscribed slate plaque which featured the beloved British author’s name and a poignant Latin phrase from the memorial obelisk in September 2020.

Though the vandals responsible for this desecration were not caught, the Fleming family quickly commissioned a new plaque to be crafted by renowned artist Fergus Wessel, who has made as exact a copy of the original as possible.

A small group of friends and family gathered at the graveyard outside St James’ Church in the village of Sevenhampton, which lies near the Swindon borough’s outskirts, on Saturday to re-dedicate the memorial, say a few prayers, and unveil the new plaque.

A scarf which once adorned a chair where the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang writer used to sit covered the memorial obelisk before the big reveal.


Mr Fleming’s stepdaughter Fionn Morgan said: “I absolutely adored my stepfather, he could not have been more wonderful to me and he was always saying to me 'to thine own self be true'.

"The grave looked so sad with the empty space so this needed to be done and I'm glad it has been done. It was an unfortunate thing that happened but I like to look at it as an opportunity to have Fergus come and replace it.

"How we prevent a theft happening again is the difficult thing."

Ms Morgan recalled what two Bond fans wrote about the thieves after hearing of the plaque's removal. One joked that they saw "a man of Asian appearance wearing a bowler hat disappearing into the night" in a nod to Oddjob from Goldfinger.

Another fan calling themselves 'Colonel Groovy' referenced the Latin phrase on the plaque itself, ‘Omnia perfunctus vitae praemia marces’ — ‘having enjoyed life’s prizes, you now decay’.

The fan wrote: "You villain, may you be denied any of life's prizes and may you not be able to enjoy one quantum of solace until you replace the plaque."

Fergus Wessell explained that this new plaque is made of the same material as the original but has been fixed more securely to the grave.

He added: “It was a great privilege and an honour to be asked to do this, it's a great feeling. The boys in the Stone Letters workshop got a buzz from seeing the name 'Ian Fleming' on something we were working on.

"That's my main legacy, training people to take this work forward because there are not many people doing this by hand now.

"We had nothing to copy so there was a lot of research involved. This is the smallest lettering I had ever cut, it had to be bang-on, you can't go wrong on something like this."

Lou Haynes is one of three people in the village who look after St James' Church. She said: "We get a lot of visitors to the churchyard who come to see Ian Fleming's grave, especially when there's a new Bond film out or a new actor playing him, it's the star attraction.

"It was upsetting when those thieves struck so it's fantastic that the plaque has been replaced, we're absolutely delighted.

"We had CCTV footage of a few young people and an adult taking it one Sunday evening, it was clearly targeted because the theft took just 13 minutes, one of them left with something stuffed up a jumper.

"But the police could not use facial recognition so they have not been caught, the old plaque is still out there somewhere."

In the prayers before the unveiling, Rev Lyn Sapwell said: "We remember Ian Fleming and his family with thanks-giving for his life and the great legacy of great literature we received from him."

Ian Fleming died from a heart attack in 1964 when he was 56-years-old. The grave contains his remains and those of his wife Ann and son Caspar. Their plaques have been left intact.

Mr Fleming was buried in Sevenhampton on August 15 1964, only three days after his death.

The graveyard is next to the Warneford Place estate which Mr Fleming moved to after completing the Bond novels, and where he wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The Highworth pub The Goldfinger is named after one of his books which later became an iconic and hugely-successful Bond film starring Sean Connery.