Tag: graveyard

Holywell Cemetery

Holywell Cemetery is the first cemetery that I visited in Oxford and is one of two that are within what I call “walking distance” of the town centre. There was no real compelling reason to visit it either, but from a curiosity standpoint it was certainly a drawcard. It is situated at Google Earth co-ordinates 51.755681°,  -1.247123° and entrance is through a gate set back from St Cross Road.

There is not a lot to say about it though, so this post is really more of a photo essay than a long winded exploration of the place. The pics speak for themselves. 

It really is a jungle in there and it is done deliberately to encourage small wild and bird life in it. I am always in two minds about leaving a cemetery wild like this, but there is a certain beauty about it that is breathtaking. There is a small information board in the cemetery, although there we no leaflets available. I have split off the key and map from the board so as to see them easier. 

The only name that I recognise is that of James Blish, a Science Fiction author. I did not hunt down the grave though, the cemetery is way too overgrown to find anything in. 

The Friends of Holywell Cemetery was founded in 1987 to raise funds for the maintenance of the cemetery on land that was gifted by Merton College in 1847. The lodge was erected in 1850 and to be honest I really thought the building was derelict but there is somebody living in it. It is however very hemmed in by foliage and getting a complete image of it was almost impossible.

University dons dominate the burials here , and  last count there were 160 of them, including 32 Heads of Houses, but there is no barrier here between town and gown. Shopkeepers and tradespeople abound, with names which will be recognised by many Oxonians. 

I am not sure whether it is still in use, or when the last burial did take place but there were a quite a few newish headstones to be seen. Unfortunately some were buried amongst the undergrowth so I could not really investigate them too closely.

Next to the cemetery is is the St Cross church and it has quite a nice churchyard too. What is interesting about it is how high the churchyard is compared to the actual church building, indicating that the churchyard is very full. I did not photograph the church though, as it was in a very awkward  position.

The churchyard is not as overgrown as the cemetery, although that could be because it is situated on the street whereas the cemetery is not street facing. Which came first? I think the churchyard was here long before the cemetery.  

That more or less sums up Holywell. I did not spend too much time there but enjoyed it immensely. Its not too often that you encounter a beaut like this one, and without the mad rush of looking for specific graves it is easy to just enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this small haven away from the frenetic rush of the city.

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Updated: 04/12/2019 — 20:24

The Friends Burial Ground in Tewkesbury

Ever since my discovery of the Society of Friends Burial Ground in Southampton in 2013, I have kept an eye open for other locations that may have been used by the Society of Friends. 

When I was in Basingstoke the Holy Ghost Cemetery had Quaker graves in it, but they were part of the general population of the cemetery as opposed to being in a separate graveyard.

 
Tewkesbury surprised me because there is a Society of Friends Burial ground in the city, and I briefly went into it when I first arrived in the city in 2015. I really stumbled onto the burial ground by accident, but never quite registered where it was. When it came to finding it once again I was stumped because I could not find it in the many alleys and passages that still exist in the city.
This weekend I decided to remedy that and go find the place! Strangely enough it did not feature on my mapping facility of my phone, so it was really a case of investigating every alley and passage until I found it. 
 
And finally I found it. The white cottage is one of two original meeting houses of the Society of Friends that exists at the site. 
 
The signs on the gate tells us nothing about the burial ground itself, apart from the date 1660.
 
 
When I had first seen this spot in June 2015 I had thought that it was strange that there were no headstones, but then I was looking at it in the same context as the burial ground in Southampton. This one has no surviving headstones, and was probably abandoned when the a new meeting house was erected in Barton Street. in 1804. 
There is not much to see in the burial grounds, it is now a pleasant garden space and is very pretty.
 
 
Personally I was hoping to find some sort of information board, but there is nothing. And naturally, the moment I was inside the space half of Tewkesbury decided that they too wanted to come in too, so I left. 
In researching this space I found a few answers, but I now need to investigate the hall in Barton Street (now called the George Watson Memorial Hall) to see whether there are answers there, and the possible continuation of this graveyard. 
 
 
The Quakers stopped using this space around about 1950 too as it was too large, which could indicate that the Quaker movement was in decline in the city. Hopefully I will find a few answers there, but somehow I doubt it.
The burial ground was not what I expected, but it is an interesting space in the city, one of many that existed a long time ago and which is now different from what it originally was.
 
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Updated: 01/01/2018 — 15:56

St Mary Magdalene Twyning.

With Winter on the go I have not been making too many excursions lately, I also have the added complication of back problems and a camera that seems to be on its last legs. However, this morning I departed on my way to a church called St Mary Magdalene near a small village called Twyning, I had originally planned to do this trip last week, but the weather had defeated me. Come to think of it, it was not such great weather today either. As the crow flies the church is roughly 2,75 km away, but on foot is is more like 4.5 km, Google Earth Co-ordinates are: 52° 1.386’N, 2° 9.384’W. There are six casualties listed as being buried here

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My route took right at the roundabout, over St John’s Bridge in Tewkesbury, towards the Mythe Bridge; however, instead of turning left towards the bridge I carried on and followed the road. It is a killer of a hill!

After much huffing and puffing I made it to the top and followed the road all the way, pausing to admire this wonderful building which reminds me of a Victorian water tower. It is very out of place but what a beaut it is.

It appears as if people do live in it, but there is no indication of its history. A bit further on I came to “The Crows”. I was tempted to throw a stone at at. and not too far from here was my turning towards “Church End” where my destination was waiting. A short 1/4 mile later and I was at the church of St Mary Magdalene.

Like so many parish churches in the UK it is steeped in history and there has probably been a church on this site since 1100 although I suspect that portions of the building that I saw today may date from the 1800’s. Certainly there are graves from the 1600’s and 1700’s in the churchyard, and an effigy in the church dates from the 1500’s. The graveyard is quite a large one, and has some really beautiful headstones, although the legibility of some is poor, The headstone above dates from the 1760’s as does the stone below. The headstones are beautiful, it was a really pleasant surprise to see so many from the 1700’s all in one place.

This beaut is a relatively new stone, dating from 1937, and it is the first that I have ever seen like this, whether there is any significance to the design I do not know, but looking at it now it reminds me of a record holder. The headstone below dates from 1772.

Once I had found my 6 CWGC graves I ambled over to the church. The service had just ended and I really wanted to check if there were any war memorials inside the church. I was pleasantly surprised by the welcome I received even though I was intruding on a coffee morning. The next service was due to start at 11 am, so I had very little time to photograph. The war memorial to the men from the parish is a modest one, but I could not help thinking that when they erected the original they did not expect that a second plaque would need to be added over 25 years later. It is a pretty church, with simple lines and a tranquil beauty about it. The pulpit is spectacular, although I did struggle to find a clear space to photograph it from. There is also a wonderful Victorian organ that must really be fantastic to hear in this small space. The biggest surprise was the wonderful effigy tomb of Sybil and Anne Clare who both died on 13 February 1575 “after the birth of the baby” The inscription plaque has been transcribed, and makes for interesting reading. And of course the stained glass is magnificent And then it was time to leave as the preparations for the next service were well advanced.

The challenge for parish churches like this is: how to attract and grow a congregation, and part of it is to make your church welcoming, and to embrace technology. The days of dark formal churches has ended, and you either adapt or die. This church has adapted.

A last look at some of those old headstones and I was on my way, and an hours walk home.

All in all it was a good morning, the churchyard exceeded my expectations, and it was nice to see inside the church too. Based on what little I do know, I do expect that the ground I was walking on had many more layers of bodies buried beneath it than visible headstones above it,

A church like this has seen so much history, and so has the small village around it. We cannot begin to fathom what life was like in the 1600’s in this area.

I feel sorry for the horses that may have had to climb that hill, although it is probable that there was a fair amount of barge traffic. The river is not too far from the village, but today I could not hop a boat to take me to it. That concluded my expedition for the day. I do however have to conclude that my camera is on its last legs, and so is one set of batteries. At some point I need to replace them both. I look forward to a new seasons expeditions, but for today I was well chuffed.

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Updated: 22/06/2018 — 12:34
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