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The Graveyard

There is almost no visible trace of the 480+ graves that are still in situ on the Chapel Stores site.

 

With our award from the National Lottery Heritage fund we will install interpretation panels in the graveyard both to commemorate the people buried there and engage local people and visitors with the site's heritage drawing upon the information presented here.

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Burial Register 1837 - 1894

Hampshire Records Office in Winchester holds the East Boldre Baptist Church burial records from 1837 - 1894.

We have transcribed the burial records into an Excel spreadsheet and from this have produced a summary listing all of the recorded burials at the chapel.

Undocumented Burials

Of burials before and after these dates we have little info but there is evidence that burials on the chapel site started as early as 1822 and continued until 1915.

  • The land the chapel sits on was purchased by the church in two parts from Captain Perry in 1819 and 1823. Soon after, in September 1824, a set of charges were drawn up relating to burial costs which were revised in 1828.

  • The Comyn notebooks (of 1817) mention that Michael Peckham who died in 1822, one of the chapel founders, is buried at the ‘New Chapel’

  • On several of the surviving gravestones are names of people not mentioned in the burial register - John Philips 1828; Bennett Jones 1829; Jane White 1868; Harry Wells 1874; Sarah Bound 1895; Patience Miller 1899; James Bound and William Dunkason both 1909; Betsy Kitcher 1915

Gravestone Recording

Our first Big Help Out included carefully clearing the undergrowth from around the headstones uncovering the 52 headstones remaining on site.

Part of the National Lottery Heritage Grant will cover the costs of recording the remaining gravestones on site using a variety of imaging techniques. We aim to make a legible record of all of their inscriptions.

 

A team of archaeological imaging experts  will start work in August 2024 and use a variety of techniques to reveal and capture the eroded inscriptions on the gravestones. 

 

We have started preparing for this work with a series of gravestone cleaning sessions. We are so grateful to the volunteers who have helped us with this so far. The next session is planned Saturday 27th January at 2pm. It takes about 40mins to clean each gravestone.

Analysis of Burials

Analysis of the data transcribed from the burial register has revealed interesting insights into East Boldre's social history.

  • Most telling is that 30% of graves on the chapel site are those of children, a sign of the high infant mortality in rural areas.

  • Reduction in infant mortality over the latter part of the 19th century

  • Peaks in deaths relating to epidemics

 

Burial Plan

This plan shows the graves on the site that were marked with the surviving headstones. These indicate that the graves were laid out in uniform lines around the chapel across the whole of the site. 

 

By 1889 the then rectangular burial ground surrounding the church was almost filled. The church had purchased the two neighbouring two cottages in 1835 with the intention to convert these into accommodation for the church's minster. In 1889 a majority of church members voted in favour of taking in the bottom ends of the cottages' gardens in order to expand the churchyard.

 

This gave rise to the irregular  shape of the existing site and most of the more recent graves will therefore in the dog leg section.

Grave Locations

There is no visible trace of the 480+ graves onsite, save for one tomb and 54 headstones tucked in an overgrown corner of the site. These were removed to the rear boundary of the chapel site by the Baptist Church prior to the hall being built in the early 1990s.

 

The numbered burial plan below shows their original positions but unfortunately the list linking the numbers to individual graves was lost many years ago.

 

Our research has since uncovered the original positions of some headstones from the church's correspondence with the Home Office prior to building the hall in the 1990s which are shown here.

 

We had hoped this lead might enable us to identify the original locations of all 54 headstones. Unfortunately, we are told the Home Office records were neither kept nor formally archived. 

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