Benjamin Biddlecombe's Tomb
Benjamin's is the only surviving marked grave on the chapel site and EBCS was very careful to preserve his coffin tomb during our programme of demolition and building works.
Benjamin was born at Newlands Farm in July 1823, son of Benjamin Biddlecombe and Ann (Kearley, daughter of Charles Kearley who owned Hatchet Mill). He was the oldest of five children (Sarah, Richard, Jane and Elizabeth).
Aged 17, the 1841 census lists him as a servant to James Seager, a yeoman (a freeholder, who farmed a small landed estate).
Benjamin was baptised on 9th April 1843 (aged 20) to become a member of East Boldre's Baptist church. This was before the baptistry had been built (1844) so his baptism may have been at Hatchet Pond.
In the 1851 census, he is listed as a widower and head of a household in Baddesley with a house keeper and two house servants (Charles Bull (22), Edwin Collis (17)). His occupation is given as a farmer of 90 hectares employing 1 labourer. We have been unable to find records of his first wife.
In 1856, he married Ann Suffield and was elected a deacon of the church on 15th September that year. They had 2 sons, James and Samuel and twin daughters, Laura and Elizabeth.
It seems Benjamin took over Hatchet Mill at some point after the death of his grandfather, Charles Kearley, in 1842.
Under the heading 'corn millers', William White's 1859 directory lists a Benjamin Biddlecombe of Hatchet Mill.
The 1861 census also lists him as a corn miller living with his family in Beaulieu Rails along with a servant of all works (Maria Harvey) and a nursemaid (11 year old Mary Gregory), helping to look after the twins.
G.Harrod's 1865 directory also lists Benjamin Biddlecombe as a farmer of Hatchet Mill.
Benjamin died 19th May 1870 aged just 46.
After Benjamin's death his wife, Ann Biddlecombe, took over as both farmer and miller (1875 Post Office directory and Kelly's 1880 directory).
The 1871 census lists Ann living with her daughters and youngest son at Hatchet Mill and as 'Careing on Mill'.
Rather strangely, the 1881 census entry lists her as a Miller which has then been altered for some reason to Milliner.
By 1889 their son James had taken over the running of Hatchet Mill and Ann had moved to Swinesleys Farm with her children Samuel and Elizabeth and a 14 year old servant - Ellen Ward. Ann died 8th Sep 1897. We are unsure where she is buried as we only have the chapel's graveyard records to 1894.
Charles Kearley, Benjamin's grandfather, is buried in the Massey's Lane graveyard belonging to the off-shoot Baptist Church that operated in parallel with the chapel during that time.