A guide to burial grounds in Leamington Spa


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Presentation by Alan Griffin of Leamington History Group.

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A guide to burial grounds in Leamington Spa

  1. 1. Leamington History Group LEAMINGTON SPA DISCOVERED SLIDE SHOW A guide to burial grounds in Leamington 1 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  2. 2. About this slideshow Locating burial grounds and individual graves in Leamington presents difficulties for local and family historians not least because for a period in the nineteenth century there were more than half-a-dozen separate burial grounds, most of them attached to Nonconformist places of worship and set aside for the sole use of the members of that particular congregation. This presentation shows the various burial grounds that have existed with notes about their history and current status. 2 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  3. 3. 1843 Map of Leamington Showing locations of the burial grounds then in existence Warwick Street Spencer Street All Saints’ church Mill Street New Street George Street 3 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  4. 4. All Saints’ churchyard Historically and from the earliest times, the burial ground surrounding the parish church was the only place of burial serving the village of Leamington Priors. As the village went through a period of major expansion in the early nineteenth century, the old parish graveyard was extended down to what is now called Gloucester Street. In 1825 the churchyard was again extended and burial vaults to accommodate 180 sealed coffins were constructed under the North Transept of All Saints’. By 1830 the area of the church yard was again extended but burial space was clearly running out. By 1838 there was no space for further interments. It is probable that there were also some intramural interments under the floor of the original church. The ledger stone marking the entrance to the Willes family vault is now hidden beneath the 19th century wood block flooring. In 1850 it was reported that there had been 310 burials in the church yard in the previous twelve years and it was in most respects full. Burials in family vaults and graves continued in the parish churchyard up until 1855 but All Saints had little alternative other than to secure another piece of ground as an addition to the church yard and anticipating the need for more burial space All Saints’ purchased a suitable plot in nearby New Street.The churchyard surrounding the parish church is closed for burials and there are no remaining headstones. 4 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  5. 5. New Street cemetery - Anglican The first burials in the New Street burial ground were in 1838. The land was given by Matthew Wise and dedicated on 21 May 1838 by the Bishop of Worcester. Construction work was funded through the church rate which was paid by dissenters as well as by churchgoers. Historically, no dissenting Minister was allowed to officiate at burials in any of the burial grounds set up by the Established Church and this fact led to many of the Nonconformist congregations throughout the land opening their own cemeteries. The New Street cemetery soon proved not to be large enough to cope with the number of burials being conducted by the Parish Church clergy. In the first ten years of its existence it was reported that there had been more than two thousand interments in this grave yard and that four and sometimes five burials were being made in a single grave nine feet deep. Some of the footpaths had to be given up for use as burial plots. A re-alignment of New Street in 1958 led to the exhumation of a number of graves on the edge of the cemetery and these remains were re-interred in the All Saints section of the Brunswick Street cemetery in March 1958. Most of the headstones in New Street have been removed over the years. 5 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  6. 6. Spencer Street - Congregational This chapel was built in 1836 and the land at the rear of the building was laid out and consecrated as a burial ground. The first interment was that of Mary Langham on 16 March 1836 and the burial ground remained in use for the next thirty-five years during which period there were 381 burials of members of the church. The burial ground was subsequently transformed into a Garden of Rest in 1928 and was grassed over. The headstones were moved to the perimeter of the plot and a sundial was erected in the centre of the lawn in commemoration of the twenty young men from the church who had given their lives in the Great War. In 1968 the area became a car park for the church and for the adjacent Loft Theatre. The whole area has now been paved and the last of the old headstones have been removed. So far as can be ascertained, the human remains were exhumed at some date but it has not been possible to ascertain where they were re-interred .When the chapel was built, catacombs were constructed under the building and a number of interments were made in these vaults in the succeeding years. Among those interred in these vaults were Arthur and Harriette Pope infant children of Alfred Pope the church’s first Minister. Following the deconsecration of the church, the human remains in the vault were exhumed in 2005 and reinterred in Leamington Cemetery. 6 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  7. 7. Warwick Street -Baptist In 1830 the local Baptists acquired a vegetable plot on the corner of Satchwell Street and Warwick Street and on it built a chapel designed by William Thomas. Part of the plot was reserved as a burial ground. In 1892 a new vestry and Sunday school was built over part of the burial ground at the rear of the building and the bodies of those interred there were exhumed and reinterred in Leamington Cemetery in February 1894. Subsequent development led to the wholesale demolition of the entire site and the Royal Priors shopping mall now occupies the site. 7 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  8. 8. Mill Street Lady Huntingdon’s Connexion Another non conformist chapel was opened in August 1829 on the corner of Mill Street and Leam Terrace and this too had a burial ground attached to it. This building had a number of incarnations as a Proprietary Chapel and as a place of worship for Lady Huntingdon’s Connexion before being taken over by the Presbyterians. The church was demolished in 1902 when the Urquhart Hall was built on the site as a parish hall for All Saints’. Several members of the Flavel family are buried here including William Flavel the inventor of the famous Leamington Kitchener cooking range. His father John was the founder of the family business.The cemetery is closed to burials, its current ownership is unknown. The remaining headstones have been moved to the edges of the graveyard which is secured by a wrought iron fence and locked gates with no public access. 8 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  9. 9. George Street - Roman Catholic This photograph shows (to the right) grave slabs and the large cross mentioned by Turnerelli The brass memorial plate from Patrick Bisshopp’s ledger stone is now fixed to the wall in St Peter’s church in Dormer Place The first Roman Catholic church in Leamington opened in George Street in October 1828 and was largely financed by Major Patrick Bisshopp and his wife Elizabeth. Bisshopp had served as a Commander at the Battle of Waterloo and was a major benefactor to local Roman Catholic causes. The church was dedicated to Saint Peter and an area of adjoining land on the corner of George Street and Russell Terrace was consecrated for use as a burial ground. The extent to which this area was used for burials is not clear but some burials were made and Tracey Turnerelli a Leamington chronicler and a member of the congregation at St Peters records that the Bisshopps ‘were buried in the graveyard there under a large cross’. Unfortunately the Archdiocese of Birmingham archive has no records relating to this early church. In 1891 an application was made to move the remains, tombs and monuments from George Street to the Leamington cemetery in Brunswick Street but this was not proceeded with for some reason and after twelve months the licence had lapsed. The memorial stones and tombs were reportedly still there in the 1950’s so it can be assumed that the human remains at George Street are still in situ. The area is now paved and fenced with no public access. The Seventh Day Adventist Church now own the church building. 9 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  10. 10. Public concern In the late 1850's the unsatisfactory burial arrangements in the town and the public health hazards associated with them became an issue of major concern. Twenty-eight local inhabitants petitioned the General Board of Health in London to set up an enquiry to examine all aspects of the subject and to make recommendations. The General Board had been created under the Public Health Act of 1848 with the aim of improving the sanitary conditions of towns and populous places in England & Wales. Mr G T Clark was appointed Superintending Inspector and he came down to Leamington to conduct an enquiry under the provisions of the Nuisances' Act 1855. In his report Clark recommended that the two Anglican burial grounds should be closed and that there should be no further interments within the built-up area of the town. It was generally agreed by all parties that the only satisfactory solution was the provision of a cemetery on the outskirts of or just outside the town. The difficulty of course was who would provide such a facility and more to the point, how would it be financed. John Craig, Vicar of All Saints', wrote a letter to The Courier which was his customary way of making his views and opinions known to the public. He expressed his full support for a cemetery and suggested that the churchwardens could levy a pro rata rate for whatever area of land they (the Anglicans) might require in it and it would then be open to the Dissenters (the Nonconformists) to raise whatever sums of money would best reflect their space requirements in any new cemetery. Not surprisingly, his suggestion failed to elicit a response. 10 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  11. 11. The first cemetery is opened Following Clark's report and over the ensuing months, both the Vestry and the Leamington Commissioners held public meetings and wrestled with the problem of securing a cemetery that would be available to all residents irrespective of their religious affiliations. Much of the debate centred on the legal position of the statutory bodies in Leamington and their legal obligations under the various Acts of Parliament relating to Public Health. It is to his great credit that the Vicar, John Craig took the lead in this debate and in 1852 opened a new cemetery in Whitnash Road (Brunswick Street) 11 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  12. 12. Brunswick Street cemetery Anglican This three- acre walled plot on the edge of the southern boundary of Leamington and Whitnash was opened in 1852. Matthew Wise gave a portion of the land and paid for the building of a Lodge and chapel, the balance of £4,000 was found from the Church Rate and by the ever generous Vicar of Leamington, John Craig. The new cemetery was consecrated by the Bishop of Worcester on 10 March 1852. It has to be said that the new cemetery was probably seen as something of a temporary solution to the problem of lack of burial space. There can be little doubt that Craig and the Churchwardens had calculated how many spaces their three acres would provide. It must have occurred to them that given the average death rate, the cemetery would, within a few years, be full and by 1866 that was once again the position in which they found themselves. The original cemetery chapel was designed by local architect David Squirhill 12 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  13. 13. The Burial Board It had for long been a source of great resentment among the Nonconformists in England that they had to pay the cemetery and Minister's fees to the Anglican Church but were expressly prohibited from having one of their own Ministers conduct a committal. There was a great deal of lobbying on this particular aspect and local rate payers presented a memorial to the All Saints churchwardens in June 1866 requesting that a parish meeting be convened and a Burial Board formed in the town and a cemetery provided. There was yet another visit by a Government Inspector Mr P H Holland whose remit was to report on the state of the parish churchyard. His inspection got off to a rather unfortunate start when he was involved in a serious altercation with John Craig in the cemetery which was reported verbatim in The Courier the following week. In the fulness of time there was a successful conclusion to the alienation and ill-feeling between the parties involved and a Burial Board was formed which undertook to provide and maintain a second public cemetery, in practice this would be the first burial ground available to those of all faiths or none. It was constructed next to the Anglican cemetery in Brunswick Street. 13 Wednesday, 26 February 2014 Mary Ann Tewart memorial Leamington cemetery
  14. 14. Brunswick Street cemetery Non-denominational In 1868 the newly-appointed Burial Board purchased thirteen acres of land lying to the west and south-west of the existing Anglican burial ground. The landowner Mrs Wise was paid £350 an acre and a smaller plot of land of about one acre to the north was also purchased from Messrs Carr and Watson. The Public Works Commissioners granted a loan of £8,000 for the purchase of the land and the erection of a Lodge and chapels for the Anglicans and Nonconformists. The cemetery was laid out in three sections for Anglicans (consecrated) Dissenters and Roman Catholics. The first funeral took place on 30 October 1868. This cemetery is still in regular use and is now administered by Warwick District Council. 14 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  15. 15. The original chapel 1852 These photographs( courtesy of All Saints’ church) show the derelict (Anglican) cemetery chapel in the 1960’s just before the building was demolished. The site of the chapel is marked on the cemetery plan. One of the graves lost was that of the former Vicar of Leamington John Craig whose efforts led to the provision of the cemetery. Craig died in 1877 and was laid to rest in the small mausoleum shown (far right) attached to the East wall of the chapel. 15 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  16. 16. The town cemetery The Anglican chapel continued in use following the opening of the new and extended cemetery in 1868. Two new chapels designed by local architect John Cundall were opened for the Episcopalians seen below right (the South chapel) and for the Nonconformists, seen below left (the North chapel). Neither of these are now used for services and there is no public access to them. Interior view of the apse in the South Chapel 16 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  17. 17. Memento mori Many interments in Leamington cemeteries are of people who were not residents but merely visitors and in such cases it was common for near relatives to have photographs taken of the grave for family members as a memento mori. This photograph taken in Leamington Cemetery shows the grave of Mrs Mary Ann Strahan of Nottingham who died at Leamington in February 1874. It was taken by the well known photographer Grahams whose studios were in Upper Parade.It is interesting in that it shows the open nature of the cemetery only six years after it was first opened. Each row of graves has a marker and each individual plot was numbered and these details were entered in the Burial Register. 17 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  18. 18. New Milverton cemetery Non-denominational The parish of New Milverton came into being with a new church dedicated to St Mark being opened on Rugby Road in 1879. There was no provision for a burial ground alongside the new church and in 1881 the Milverton Board of Health opened a new cemetery, four acres in extent, in Old Milverton Road. Land for the cemetery was given by Lady Charles Bertie Percy and the first burial took place on 7 September 1881. Before this cemetery was opened, Milverton burials had taken place either in the Brunswick Street cemetery or in the churchyard at Old Milverton for those residents of New Milverton who habitually worshipped there. A fine chapel was built in the centre of the New Milverton cemetery but the pressure on burial space led to its demolition in recent years. The cemetery is now closed for burials but open daily for visitors. 18 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  19. 19. Leamington Burial Registers All Saints’churchyard Original registers exist which commence in 1618. These early registers are held in the Warwickshire County Record Office (WCRO) at DR 571/1 and ZO 420 and relate to burials in the graveyard adjoining the church. Also at WCRO is an index to burials for the period 1618 - 1750 compiled by H S Tallamy. Leamington Library holds facsimiles of early burial records for the Anglican section of Brunswick Street from 1852 compiled by the former Parish Clerk, Edwin Bloomfield in 1886, these are in three black volumes titled All Saints Burial Index in the glass-fronted book case in the references section. Bloomfield’s original volumes are in WCRO. Brunswick Street cemetery The early records for the Anglican cemetery at New Street and what is referred to as All Saints’ churchyard at Brunswick Street are deposited in WCRO and catalogued at DR 571 et seq. and at DR 514. Copies of original burial registers for 1868 1894 (Burial Board) are also in WCRO at GMJ 210 - 212. Warwick District Council (at Oakley Wood Crematorium) holds records of burials at Brunswick Street from 1868. Recent burials in the Anglican plot are recorded in the All Saints Burial Register which is in the custody of the Vicar of Leamington.See above for earlier records of the All Saints section. New Street cemetery See under ‘All Saints churchyard’ at DR 571 in WCRO Spencer Street cemetery The Burial Register for Spencer Street, listing almost four hundred burials, is held at WCRO in CR 2014/6. The register also includes a plan of the burial ground with all graves named. It also includes a plan showing the layout of the vaults beneath the chapel with names of those interred. Mill Street cemetery Burial registers are extant only for the years 1831 - 1837 and are available on microfilm at WCRO at MI 191/192 George Street burial ground A register of baptisms, marriages and burials is extant for the period 1822 - 1831 and is available on microfilm at WCRO at MI 190 Milverton cemetery Burial records for the Milverton cemetery are held by Warwick District Council at Oakley Wood Crematorium 19 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  20. 20. Memorial inscriptions All Saints churchyard/New Street/Brunswick Street Memorial Inscriptions are recorded in the ZI series at WCRO where hard copies of the entries are available in volumes on the open shelves in the Search Room. There are named indexes but coverage is not comprehensive and only for certain sections of Brunswick Street. Spencer Street A survey was made in 1927 when 73 inscriptions were recorded. This list is at WCRO CR 2024/54 Mill Street There is no extant list of the memorial inscriptions in this burial ground. Milverton cemetery No list is known to exist of the memorial inscriptions in this cemetery. 20 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  21. 21. Acknowledgements This slide show in the Leamington Discovered series was researched and compiled by Alan Griffin with valuable help from Barry Franklin,Richard King and Alan Tucker-Lee (Warwick District Council). The majority of the images are the copyright of Leamington History Group who readily acknowledge additional images supplied by Leamington Museum and Art Gallery (Warwick District Council), Warwickshire County Record Office and the Vicar & churchwardens of All Saints’ church, Leamington Spa. This presentation is in PDF form and any part of it can be downloaded for non-commercial use without further reference to the compilers. 21 Wednesday, 26 February 2014
  22. 22. End of slide show 22 Wednesday, 26 February 2014