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The Graveyard

There is almost no visible trace of the 480+ graves that are in situ on the Chapel Stores site, save for Benjamin Biddlecombe's tomb and the 52 displaced headstones tucked in the rear corner of the 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 on 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. Of burials before and after these dates we have little info but there is evidence (headstones and a schedule of burial charges from 1826) to suggest burials may have started as early as 1823 and continued until 1939.

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

Other Burials

On the 52 gravestones surviving in the chapel's graveyard there the names of people not mentioned in the burial register.

In 1828 a set of charges were drawn up relating to burial costs that precedes the surviving burial record that dates from 1837 so there certainly undocumented burials on the chapel site.

One is that of John Philips dated 1828; another that of Bennett Jones dated 1829; both pre-dating the extant register. Another four post date the surviving burial register ranging in burial dates from 1895 to 1915. Two appear to date within the burial register timeframe but are not recorded in it.

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 lead this work during the summer of 2024 and work with local people using a variety of techniques to reveal and capture the eroded inscriptions on the gravestones.

Analysis

The Excel spreadsheet transcribed from the burial register allows us to analyse the burial register data.

Most telling is that 30% of graves on the chapel site are those of children.

Grave Locations

There is no visible trace of the 480+ graves onsite, save for 52 headstones tucked in an overgrown corner of the site. They were removed to the rear boundary of the chapel site prior to the hall being built in the early 1990s. The numbered plan below shows their original positions but unfortunately the church lost the list linking the numbers to individuals .

 

Our research has since uncovered the original positions of some headstones from the Baptists correspondence with the Home Office to get the permission needed to build the hall (now demolished) on a disused graveyard in the 1990s. We had hoped this lead might enable us to identify the grave locations of all 52 individuals. Unfortunately, after extensive research, it seems both the Home Office and Baptists records were neither kept nor formally archived. 

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