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THE TOMBSTONE PROJECT

The aim of this project is to photographically record all the memorials in All Saints Churchyard and put them on the web site. The project has been triggered by remarks made in the Warden's Page in June 2004, reproduced below :

"Although at this time of the year the sap is rising and the days noticeably lengthening I still hear people saying where has the day gone! Perhaps I am near to leaving that age zone where the flesh is willing but the spirit is weak and heading for the converse! Such were my thoughts when challenged by the sight of All Saints Churchyard the other day. We will have to consider and act to meet the matter of future maintenance. As you know the churchyard is closed for burials and so one can expect little disturbance in the future to the ground itself. Judging from expenditure to date a sum of approximately £2000 per annum is the minimum we will have to spend to just keep it in a tidy state. If however we stand back and take a longer-term view of the problem, have the ground levelled, and paths laid, this will ensure that the churchyard becomes more manageable at lower cost in terms of time and money. If this is achieved we will also be able to ensure that only appropriate memorials are maintained."


Fortunately action such as suggested above will probably take a little while to come to fruition, as the alteration to memorials is a delicate task where many people have to be contacted, on a very sensitive issue. Then there are the enquiries to make sure there are no interested living relatives, and so on. Nevertheless a start needs to be made now.

Details of how many memorials there are at All Saints is not to hand, nor the dates of the oldest memorials but some idea of the magnitude of the task is portrayed below.

UPDATE :
An important milestone (or is that headstone?) was reached today when the final headstone was photographed. Work can now commence on creating the presentation for this web site. As this is not weather dependant watch this space for developments.
Additional material has also been made available to the project in the form of penciled notes of the inscriptions on the headstones. These were created by members of the East Dorset section of the Somerset and Dorset Family History Society and whilst not covering all the headstones it forms a first hand record of some of the more illegible ones. A transcript has been made of these documents and the result may be viewed here.
Mistakes, Typographical Errors and Spelling. The document is a transcript as near to the original as possible. How near will be seen when copies of the papers are displayed on this web site in due course, but please remember that spelling in 1700/1800 was sometimes different to today. Hence there is a Wimbourne, Jeney, This end was peace, Thomes, Toms and Thoms all correctly copied from the original document. If however you think that something is wrong please contact us with your comment or query.

There was something truly poignant about the task and it left a feeling that as churchyards quietly slip into disuse we are losing something of value. Not that death in the modern age has lost any of its feelings of grief for those that are left but you get the feeling from the text on the headstones of the importance of the people, that have died, to their families. There is the tragedy of the Green sisters and then echoing down the years from 1788 Ann Cox who died aged 26, then her sister who died aged 53 leaving behind a mother who survived her daughters, until 1818 aged 87 years, and somehow the physical presence of the headstone from 1645 arouses thoughts of what was on peoples minds then as they stood round the grave in the quiet, rural, countryside of West Parley, there was a Civil War going on after all.

If you wish to make any comment, provide historical information or any sort of contribution to this project please use the talk2me email link on the homepage. Once the photography has been finalised, initially in its "rough" form, the results will be put on a web page. The format is yet to be decided but it will be along the lines of thumbnails (small pictures) with the opportunity to specifically download the full size picture on request. The full size picture can be as much as 1.1 Mbytes.
The plan of the churchyard is now available for viewing, CHURCHYARD PLAN

Brigadier Jephson Jones

headstone An enquiry from the George Cross database underlines how important it is to have a record of the churchyard, as the stones will weather whilst the photographs will not. A thumbnail biography of the Brigadier appears in the database together with photographs of his grave. Who knows what other artifacts should be specially recorded in this way on our web site.