On my recent trip to Birmingham, one of the stations that I passed was Sutton Coldfield, also known as “The Royal Town Of Sutton Coldfield”. The only reason I decided to head out that way was because according to my list, there were 46+3 graves buried in the old cemetery in the town. That is reason enough for me, and I packed my goodies and headed out in that direction.
It did not seem to be too big a place, although my Google Earth Map did show a substantial park, as well as the usual conglomeration of buildings, churches and houses. My goal was not too far away although I did mess up by taking the wrong turning. (I seem to be doing that a lot lately), and it was probably because I detoured at the Holy Trinity Church first.
There is an interesting plaque in the park below the church that was of interest, and it sums up a bit about the town.
Bishop Vesey is buried in this church and he has a lot to do with the revival of the town after the War of the Roses. Sadly the church was not open so I could not go look at the effigy inside the church. The graveyard has been leveled, and the headstones are now stacked along the periphery wall. The area around the church is much higher than the floor level of the church which could be as a result of the amount of burials within the original churchyard.
The cemetery I was going to was really and overflow for the churchyard, and it in turn had an extension once it was full.
Following my detour I eventually found the cemetery, and started at the extension as there were only 3 graves there to find. The extension is also full, and I wonder where burials are now happening? I walked the rows, looking for the first burials, but it was quite a large area.
Fortunately my graves were in an area close to the road and I almost fell over them while I was looking. Unfortunately they are not a healthy colour, and are really in dire need of cleaning. Then I headed to the old cemetery, with its lodge and chapel. I did have grave numbers for the graves, but these did not tally with how the sections were marked on the map.
I was just going to have to find what I could and try reconcile those known graves with graves that I was missing. 46 does not sound like a lot, but the reality is that once the recognisable graves have been found the private memorials are what is left over. Their legibility is often poor, and in some cases the headstones are overgrown with moss, or even toppled.
As cemeteries go it was not too bad, a nice mix of old and newish headstones, although some parts were looking slightly sparse. The easily found graves went quickly but I was soon sitting with 8 graves that were hiding from me, and I had to eliminate each one separately. By roughly midday I had only two to go and the discovery of grave numbers on the occasional grave did mean I could walk a section and count, and then try another section and count. Surprisingly both graves were right under my nose! The private memorial toll was quite high too, I found 8 PM’s amongst the graves, and that was surprising. Rent paid, it was time to head off home.
I headed in the direction of the station, but veering slightly off course towards where a sign had pointed out the Town Hall was. If there was a war memorial it would probably be close to the Town Hall.
My supposition was correct, and the War Memorial was opposite the Town Hall on a small island. It was a very pretty memorial too, very reminiscent of some that I had seen in London. It was unveiled on 01 November 1922, and consists of single 1.8 metre bronze figure on a 4.6 metre Dalbeattie granite pedestal. There are plaques on three of the faces, covering both World Wars. It may be found at Google Earth co-ordinates 52.566082°, -1.824315°
The memorial was designed by Francis-Doyle Jones, and cost of the memorial was met by the Voluntary Subscription Fund. It was restored in 1979.
The Town Hall was also quite nice, with an impressive clock tower. Although the actual building seems to be in danger of becoming more yuppie pads.
I was close to the station so decided to get myself over there and homeward bound. The station is not really a huge one, but it does have a very nice tunnel, and I waited for the light at the end of the tunnel!
When it did arrive it turned out to be the local to Birmingham, and not one of the many diesels that I had heard at the cemetery.
It appears that at some point close by the railway splits, with the diesels and their container trains heading in one direction, with the locals in the other. The station was also the site of a rail disaster on 23 January 1955, but I am not sure where it happened in relation to the station as it was on that day. A plaque was unveiled at the station to commemorate the event.
(Image by © Optimist on the run, 2016 /, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46600852)
Master and Miss Harrison are both buried in the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul, Weobley, Herefordshire.
I had accomplished what I had set out to do, and was suitably satisfied, peckish and tired. There was not too much to see in the town though, and I doubt if I will head out there again, but it was an interesting interlude and a glimpse into yet another interesting town.
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