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Decimated Graveyards

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Decimated Graveyards

Postby Will Mundy » Sat Feb 01, 2020 9:48 am

Hello,
After researching my X3 great grandmother Jane Wilkins who was born in 1844 in Brize Norton, Oxfordshire and died Jane Arkell in 1930 at Brize Norton. Jane was a great aunt of the spitfire pilot Mary Ellis! I found that the Wilkins family lived in Brize Norton since the late 1600’s. Not living too far away I went to have a look round the cemetery to see if I could find any headstones that stood the test of time. The only trace of the family I could find was one headstone in the churchyard of a child, the cemetery though seemed particularly sparse. I was wondering if anybody else has found cemeteries like this and what reason there might be behind this? I was particularly surprised that Jane’s headstone hadn’t survived from 1930.


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Last edited by Will Mundy on Sat Feb 01, 2020 11:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Decimated Graveyards

Postby ciderdrinker » Sat Feb 01, 2020 10:48 am

Hello
Yes things are getting worse.
My local Cemetery cleared one section from the 20's and 30's.
The only gravestone left was the WWII special white one.
They become very keen on health and safety.The Stone can't fall over and cost them a law suit.
Young children left unsupervised running amok injuring themselves etc.

And then there is the pressure for building land.
Two local church graveyards ,first had their Church demolished because of declining congregations.Then the graveyard gets a bit untidy and then there was an excuse to clear it for redevelopment.Or actually a car park for the adjoining YMCA.

You could check with a local archives if they have any MI transcriptions from the Cemetery.

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Re: Decimated Graveyards

Postby Guy » Sat Feb 01, 2020 1:08 pm

Yes there has been a claimed Health & Safety blitz over the last 10 or twenty years (note I wrote claimed as some of these health & safety blitzes were simply clearances and nothing to do with health & safety).
However this is nothing new back in the 1960s & 1970s many churchyards and cemeteries suffered from headstones being removed to allow for mechanical grass cutting rather than scything. In some cases this meant removing or laying down of a number of stones, in other cases the headstones were virtually all removed and placed around the perimeter and in some cases the headstones were destroyed.
All stones removed and destroyed were supposed to be transcribed and recorded with the details archived at the local record office, but I know many were not.
As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.
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Re: Decimated Graveyards

Postby Amazinggrace » Sat Feb 01, 2020 4:11 pm

Yes Guy is correct.Where my grandad is buried in West Lothian,the headstones have all beem placed around the perimeter wall.
Grace 8-)
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Re: Decimated Graveyards

Postby junkers » Sun Feb 02, 2020 12:46 am

Will Mundy wrote:Hello,
After researching my X3 great grandmother Jane Wilkins who was born in 1844 in Brize Norton, Oxfordshire and died Jane Arkell in 1930 at Brize Norton. Jane was a great aunt of the spitfire pilot Mary Ellis! I found that the Wilkins family lived in Brize Norton since the late 1600’s. Not living too far away I went to have a look round the cemetery to see if I could find any headstones that stood the test of time. The only trace of the family I could find was one headstone in the churchyard of a child, the cemetery though seemed particularly sparse. I was wondering if anybody else has found cemeteries like this and what reason there might be behind this? I was particularly surprised that Jane’s headstone hadn’t survived from 1930.


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Have you found a burial record for Jane. I have found wills can be of use in locating where they were buried (even in or under the existing church). Many headstones,like in St Austell, Cornwall, were moved to make a local park with the stones places by a wall.
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Re: Decimated Graveyards

Postby meekhcs » Sun Feb 02, 2020 3:11 am

Have you spoken to whoever is responsible for the graveyard? They should be able to tell you what has happened.
I have seen the opposite end of the spectrum where a large city cemetery has been allowed to become totally overgrown because of the cost of the upkeep. The city have gotten away with this by making it a “designated wildlife area”.
It contains some beautiful gravestones and Family graves that are totally unreachable because of the coverage of brambles etc. So sad to see.


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Re: Decimated Graveyards

Postby phsvm » Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:23 pm

At the other end of the spectrum I know of another Oxfordshire cemetery where the Parish Council are actively encouragning the preservation of graves by setting up an 'Adopt a Grave' scheme where villagers can help by tidying up a grave that has been abandoned for one reason or another.

Some years ago they listed a number of graves where the stones were considered in a dangerous state and relatives were given the chance to pay for them to be restored. Five cousins and I clubbed together to reinstate the grave of a distant relative whom none of us had known but we all felt it important it maintain the grave. Those graves where no one came forward were treated with respect and dignity. The headstones were removed but placed flat on the grave.
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Re: Decimated Graveyards

Postby meekhcs » Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:32 pm

What a great ! Was it a one off payment or an annual subscription please?


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Re: Decimated Graveyards

Postby phsvm » Wed Feb 05, 2020 6:54 pm

Meekhcs - was your query in response to my comment about restoring a family grave?

If so I just contacted the parish council, told them we'd like to pay for it's restoration, they said 'fine', I spoke to a local stone mason/head stone supplier, they did the job and we paid them.

Simples!
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Re: Decimated Graveyards

Postby meekhcs » Wed Feb 05, 2020 7:35 pm

Yes thank you. As usual I pushed the send button without checking I’d made sense.
The cemetery I am talking about is huge. There is a band of volunteers who try to maintain order but they are facing a losing battle! Most of the graves are in good condition just inaccessible!
I did wonder if the local council were involved in yours.
I might suggest we try to raise funds for an initial clearance and then the volunteers can continue. Thanks


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