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Problem at the Funeral of Doris Jones in Wickhamford in 1908

In The Evesham Standard & West Midland Observer of 17th October 1908, the regular column “Notes by Chiel”, mentioned an incident at a funeral in Wickhamford:  

“There was a somewhat painful incident, I am informed, at a child’s funeral at Wickhamford on Wednesday, the coffin having been taken to the grave which was not large enough.  There was some delay while the grave was enlarged.  Other similar cases in the district have been reported from time to time, and it is to be hoped that the greatest care will be taken in future to prevent such distressing occurrences.”

The child being buried was a daughter of Herbert George and Elizabeth Jones.  The baby, Doris Jones, had been baptised on 9th October, but sadly died aged only 8 days.

The week after the report of the incident, the next edition of the newspaper published a letter from the Vicar of Wickhamford, Rev’d William Allsebrook:


The accustomed levity of ‘Notes by Cruil’ is this week relieved by illusion to ‘a somewhat painful incident at a child’s funeral at Wickhamford…….the coffin having been taken to the grave, which was not large enough.’

That the paragraph in question caste unmerited reflections on the sexton of Wickhamford, and that the said official was ‘the victim sinn’d against not sinning’ will appear, I think, from the following facts:

The funeral was rather more than half-an-hour late, in consequence of which delay, the sexton had to ring the bell for nearly an hour.

Those responsible for the burial had neglected to give the sexton particulars as to the size of the coffin, but the sexton, knowing the grave was for a child of only eight days old, provided a grave that would have been ample dimensions had not the coffin been much larger than was necessary.

He went on to dispute the claim that such events were of regular occurrence and concluded:

As your anonymous contributor is accorded a prominent position in the “Standard” for his animadversions on Wickhamford, I trust you will give equal prominence to this letter in your next issue.

Vicar of Wickhamford and Badsey-with-Aldington

There was no indication as to the undertaker concerned with this unfortunate event. Robert Taylor, who lived on Pitchers Hill, was a churchwarden from 1907 until 1916 and he may also have been acting as the sexton at the time of this case?

Rev Allsebrook
                          Reverend Allsebrook.
Robert Taylor
Robert Taylor maintaining the churchyard with a scythe.
Wickhamford churchyard map
Part of a plan of the churchyard drawn by George Lees-Milne in 1948.  The small graves behind the chancel are where four identifiable child burials had taken place.  Doris Jones was probably buried in that area, but no gravestone exists.

Jones Family background

The Jones family were living at 5 Longdon Hill at the time of the 1911 census, and had been in the village for a few years, as a daughter, Phyllis, had been baptised in Wickhamford in 1904.  Herbert George Jones, born in Abberton, near Pershore, in 1881, was a carter on a farm, probably Pitchers Hill Farm (now Wickhamford Farm) and his wife was Elizabeth (nee Drury, b 1872).  In 1911, apart from Phyllis, aged 6, they had two other children, Sarah Elizabeth (4) and Thomas Herbert (8 months).   Phyllis attended Badsey School from 1910 but died in February 1913 and was buried in Wickhamford.   No gravestone exists to show where she was buried.

Herbert George Jones enlisted in the Army Service Corps (Mechanical Transport) as a Private (No M2/120090) on 2nd September 1915, but was discharged on 5th February 1916.
By the time of the 1921 census, the family had moved Abberton where Herbert was a cowman.  He had two more children, Sydney (7) and Doris May (2), both born in Stanton. Sarah Elizabeth Jones was living in the household of James Mitchell Crowther Gibbon in 1921. He was an artist, who had been born in Bengal and she was servant in the house, Abberton Hall. 

Herbert George Jones died in Nuneaton in 1955 and Elizabeth Jones died in Coventry in 1956.


The Wickhamford Marriage Register has an entry for 26th December 1928 concerning the wedding of William Joseph Gannaway and Gladys Jones, aged 21, the daughter of ‘Herbert Jones (deceased).’  This would appear not to be another member of the Jones family discussed here.

Tom Locke, January 2023