Barbara Miles, of Tyrells End, undertook a monumental survey in the 3 years up to 1995 – of the churchyard monuments. She meticulously recorded and catalogued every one, and deposited printed boks of the result with the church and with Bedford archive service. It was a splendid piece of work.
Times move on. Fifteen years have passed since Barbara’s survey, and people are still being buried in the churchyard. Since the survey was a printed document describing a moment in time, it’s not practical to update it with new information as new monuments appear. Plus, it’s now possible to give precise geographic location for each monument, and store high resolution digital photos, which would have been very hard 15 years ago. Sadly, Barbara died in 2001, and is now buried in the churchyard she surveyed. By definition, her own grave is one of those missing from her catalogue.
To make Barbara’s survey more useful in the present day, a printed copy was scanned and converted back to text by Emrys Williams. It’s now stored in the form of a spreadsheet listing grave location, description of monument, inscription text and any appropriate notes. A first edition of this is presented here, not updated from Barbara’s time, and with some mistakes caused by imperfect character recognition. In future, this online resource can be updated to include new information, and provide an aid to management of the church, a way to find the grave of the people you loved, and a fascinating archive for curious historians.
There’s much work to be done to bring the survey up to date.
- Proof-read the scanned text and check it against Barbara’s text
- Walk round the churchyard and confirm that the monuments are unchanged, and catalogue the new ones
- Photograph the monuments
- Map the graveyard accurately – so that any monument can be found at once
- Process the spreadsheet to extract more interesting data – average age of death of men and women, for example
- You name it!
If you’d like to volunteer, send a message and get in touch with the others.
Honouring our ancestors
It’s easy to lose sight of the fact, with all this cataloguing and mapping and analysis and photography, that the primary purpose of the churchyard and its monuments is to be a memorial for those buried there, every one of whom was loved by someone, and at whose grave mourners cried. Let’s make sure that we keep to the spirit of that idea and not treat the graveyard as a fancy playground for historians.
Barbara’s survey was top quality, several years’ work, and is a fine basis from which to move forward. Thank you so much, Barbara.
The format’s not great, but it’s a start. The google doc is available in the iFrame below, or you can go directly to it here.