A Major Survey in 2001 & 2002
In this article Peter Stewart describes his survey which involved recording and photographing almost every monumental inscription at Badsey
The first, and only previous survey, of the monumental inscriptions of St. James’ Church, Badsey was carried out in 1987, by a team of volunteers from the Birmingham and Midland Society for Genealogy and Heraldry (B&MSGH). The published results contains 443 monumental inscriptions with an index of 443 names, and contains maps showing the locations of the monuments, including those in the church interior. Some of the inscriptions are no longer readable, therefore this remains an important document. However, the original registers were not consulted during that survey, therefore there is no record of the numerous discrepancies between the inscriptions and the original burial registers. Also time, and restrictions in force in 1987, did not permit the cleaning or disturbance of stones, so a number of inscriptions are incomplete, or not recorded for those stones lying face down. Although not a member of the B&MSGH, I had also been a less active member of this volunteer team, whose members were involved in recording of inscriptions in all the graveyards in Worcestershire. In July 2001 I decided to carry out a new and independent survey of the monuments, and to provide a photographic record of the monuments, before some of them deteriorate any further. This publication therefore, gives the results of this survey.
The Burial Registers
Before recording the inscriptions the church burial registers were consulted, including those held on microfilm in the Worcester Record Office (Registers 1 to 3) and those presently held by the Incumbent (Registers 4 & 5). The Bishops Transcripts were also examined, and a number of burials not recorded in the registers were found and added to the burial database. There are five burial registers covering the following periods:
- Register No.1 contains 1519 burials from 1538 to 1784. An additional seven burials were found in the Bishops Transcripts.
- Register No.2 contains 207 burials from the 16th January 1785 to the 23rd December 1812.
- Register No.3 contains 801 burials from the 12th February 1813 to the 8th September 1906. This register appears to be complete, however, there are no burials recorded in 1882.
- Register No.4 unfortunately has a large number of omissions from 1936 - 1947, including all after March 1936 up to early 1942. Some missing burials, from May 1942 to 1947, have since been added to, or inserted on paper between the pages of the register, by a previous Incumbent. Including 103 known omissions, I have recorded 859 burials from the 9th October 1906 to the 20th November 1968.
- Register No. 5 contains 472 burials from the 7th December 1968 to the 20th March 2002.
The Book of Remembrance
This book, covering the period May 1964 to July 2000, is kept in a locked display case inside the church. It contains the names and dates of death of 111 individuals whose cremated ashes are in the Garden of Remembrance, or have been interred in family plots. The names of 32 of those listed are also recorded in the burial registers.
The existing church burial maps held by the Incumbent, were also examined. One map shows the locations and plot numbers for many of the older graves, but numbers are not recorded against the entries in the registers. It is also obvious from this map that some of the older stones, many now lying horizontal, have since been moved, or disappeared altogether. Unmarked graves have been crudely drawn in for some areas only. I have therefore produced a new set of maps, and included them in this survey.
Memorial stones described as Tombstones and Plinths in the 1987 Survey, are today referred to as Headstones and Kerbs, and I have adopted the new terminology for this survey. Only in a small number of cases have I described the type of monument in detail. Some headstones are either surrounded by, or attached to kerbs, in all cases I have titled these Headstones & Kerbs.
The map shows a complete plan of the churchyard divided into five plots, A to D, and the Garden of Remembrance (GOR). The numbering of the plots in each section is as follows:
- Section A This section consists mainly of old graves, but still continues to be used for interments of cremated ashes in existing family plots. Plots in this section have been allocated the numbers 1-254. The numbering includes unmarked plots in the lower, western, area of the section, as many of these are shown on the existing map. Despite being full, very few unmarked plots are shown on the old map for the upper, eastern, part of this section, therefore, the new map is rather bare for this area. Although each plot has been allocated a new number, the old grave number, as shown on the old map, is included in the notes, and follows the description of the stone type. Headstones known, or suspected of, being out of their original positions, are coloured yellow on the plans.
- Section B This section also consists mainly of old graves, but some old burial ground is now being used for new interments. The burial registers give numbers for the new burials, and I have numbered the remaining old graves in this section to fit in with the new numbering. As in Section A, the old plot numbers are included in the notes.
- Section C This section was opened in 1954, with the first burial in March of that year. I have used the plot numbers that are recorded in the burial registers for this section.
- Section D This section was opened in 1958, with the first burial in June of that year. As in Section C, I have used the plot numbers as recorded in the burial registers for this section.
- Garden of Remembrance (G) The first cremated ashes were interred here in 1964. There is no numbering for these in the registers, or in the Book of Remembrance, therefore I have numbered those with memorial plaques from GOR1 onwards.
After consulting the burial registers, some plots were found to contain burials of individuals not recorded on the inscriptions. These individuals are included in the reference notes for that plot, as are those whose ashes are known to have been interred without ceremony into family plots, and are not recorded in either the registers or the Book of Remembrance.
The church interior
Church Interior (I) Although the majority of inscriptions within the church are memorials for the dead, other events, such as bell ringing, and a framed list of the Titular Vicars of Badsey & Aldington, are included in this survey. A plan of the church interior, shows the locations of the monumental inscriptions, with numbers prefixed with the letters Ch. in the notes.
This survey was carried out as intended, with each monument personally examined and the details on each recorded, including the type of monument. Details were recorded on paper and electronically on a computer. All stones, lying face down or half covered, have been lifted and read. The bases of some part sunken headstones and kerbs have also been uncovered and checked. And in doing so, revealed some unrecorded inscriptions of individuals and verses. The ground has also been thoroughly probed over a period of weeks, and seven previously unrecorded 17th & 18th Century stones were uncovered, including three out of place footstones belonging to nearby headstones. These footstones will be reunited with their parent stones in due course. The oldest stone uncovered was dated 1644. This headstone, now lying horizontal, and probably not in its original location, commemorates the death of Elizabeth George, who died on the 26th of February of that year. Other George family stones are located nearby. One footstone, inscribed I.P. 1663, caused some confusion at first, as no individual with these initials was buried in that year, only a Jane Pigeon. However, a bit of research into 17th Century handwriting revealed that the letter I and J were often interchanged, therefore our footstone belonged to Jane Pigeon who, according to the registers, was buried on the 20th of May 1663. This footstone has no parent stone, though a totally eroded headstone, lying face down and close by, is the most likely candidate. Another 17th Century footstone has only a verse inscribed on it, obviously relating to a female interment, but as there is no accompanying headstone, the identity of this lady will never be known.
When one strolls through the churchyard, it is hard to believe that, according to the records, some 3971 individuals have been interred herein since 1538. Though with omissions in the registers, and unrecorded interment of ashes into family plots, the number is probably nearer 4000. The last resting place of less than a third of those interred in the churchyard have been found during my researches. The last resting place of less than a third of those interred in the churchyard have been found during my researches. A number of those buried here appear in my family tree, therefore I can put some faces to the names on the headstones. Others I have known at work, or have obtained photographs of. I have a photograph of William Mustoe, who died in August 1944 at the grand old age of 102. The oldest individual, whose ashes are interred in an unmarked family plot, is Helen (Nellie) Hartwell. She died on the 5th of February 2002, just 13 days short of her 104th birthday. Slightly younger when they died, were Louisa Malin, at 100 years old in 1910, and Claressa Alice Richards, at 101 in 2001. There are 90 individuals in the burial registers whose ages range from 90 to 99 years old. Sadly there are many interments of those who did not enjoy a long and fruitful life. One 18th Century headstone informs us that Thomas and Mary Bird lost four children, including twins, and aged from just seven weeks to six years old. John and Clara Jelfs lost three children, aged between three weeks and 17 years old, but the last resting places for these, and many other children interred in the graveyard, are not known.
While the commonest name in the burial registers is Knight, with 169 recorded burials from 1561 to 2001, the surnames of Brzezinski, Knurek and Tyszko are less so, and reminders of the war years, and the arrival of Polish refugees into the region when the war ended. Some eventually settling in Badsey and becoming part of the village community. The surname Rosskopf is particularly interesting. Johann Rosskopf was a WW1 German prisoner of war, who was billeted in Badsey Manor House, and died in November 1918 at the age of 33 years. His remains were exhumed in 1963 and removed to the German War Cemetery at Cannock Chase. The name Willi Ritterswuerden is also commemorated in the graveyard. He was a German prisoner from WW2, who decided to remain in England after the war. He married a local girl, Evelyn Major, who now lives with her daughter in America.
I have spoken to many visitors to the graveyard over the last six months, many of these local people visiting family graves. I have learnt much from our conversations, some sad tales of sudden natural death, or by accident, but mainly of the life and times of the deceased. Some recalled buried friends and neighbours, and provided clues to who was buried where in unrecorded and unmarked graves. This has been a most interesting and rewarding exercise, which has taken much longer than anticipated. I have enjoyed reading and recording the inscriptions and verses, and in doing so hopefully brought some long forgotten individuals back to life, if only in printed form.
Finally, this survey is published in two ways: as a book and electronically on the Badsey Web Site, which will allow interested persons world-wide access to the inscription and the photographs. The web pages can easily be updated as and when new inscriptions appear.
While the reading, recording, cleaning, and photographing of the inscriptions involved only myself, the whole project would not have been possible without the help and encouragement of others, and for this I give my thanks to the following: the Reverend Dr. Adrian Hough, for the freedom he allowed me to carry out this survey, and access to the burial registers in his care; for their work on the original 1987 survey I thank the team of volunteers from the Birmingham and Midland Society for Genealogy, namely Pauline Page, Linda Bushell, Geoff Farmer, Jeremy Boaz and Gillian Lawley; a further thanks to Linda Bushell for the loan of study material, and for her past help in teaching me how to record inscriptions. I also acknowledge the help I received from brothers John and Will Dallimore when muscle was needed to lift headstones for reading. For the same reason I thank David Caswell for his help and the loan of equipment. For permission to reproduce his picture of Christ, which is hanging inside the church, I thank Michael Barnard. I also wish to acknowledge the help I received from the following two businesses: Browns Memorials of Port Street, Evesham, for supplying catalogues and for identifying various stone materials; Ward and Dale Smith, Chartered Surveyors & Historic Building Consultants, Evesham, for providing free photocopying facilities during the initial stages of this survey. Thanks are also due to the following: Terry Sparrow, Maureen Spinks, and Church Wardens, Sue Cole and Chris Robbins. Will Dallimore designed the webpages for the B& MSGH survey and many of his design ideas have been adopted here. A special thank you to Richard Phillips, for his help in many ways, in particular for the excellent way he has presented my work on the webpages. My final thanks must go to all the visitors and villagers I have met during this survey, for the interest they have shown in my activities, and for the useful information I have gleaned from them during our conversations.
Peter F. Stewart
10 Digby Road
Here are the results of the survey.