Friday, 10 April 2015

Talking of Churches

I was near Harty Church this morning so grabbed a photograph of that wonderful little church. It sits on the high ground of Harty and from it's entrance it looks eastwards down across the flat marsh of The Swale National Nature Reserve all the way to Shellness Hamlet. The view from it's rear is down to the narrow and tidal Swale that seperates Sheppey from the mainland, and pretty much which ever way you look from it, the views are magnificent.
It's a lovely little church on one of my favourite parts of Sheppey but here's the nub, as a family historian it would of been really great if they had left all the grave headstones in place. Obviously nice manicured lawns back and front make the place nice and clean and tidy and very photogenic but when one is researching past family history there's nothing like a well stocked cemetery full of graves and headstones.

Minster Abbey (below) went the same way many years ago but there are old photographs around that show a large cemetery where the trees now are, packed with graves and headstones.

The  cemetery around Elmley church went the same way once the church was demolished, headstones were taken up and presumably lost, it was allowed to grass over and at one time old farm machinery was scattered across it. At Elmley, despite many burials there, some relatives of mine, all that remains is one broken headstone and at Minster and Harty some headstones do still exist, simply stood against boundary fences or walls.

Am I being over-sentimental or romantic, well perhaps but it's the historian in me coming out. To research a particular person in a family and then be able to find that person's untended hundred odd years old grave, clean it up and sit there, does help make that history more real. I can't help thinking of all those families so many years ago, burying a loved one with so much remorse, possibly scraping enough money for a headstone and yet now those graves do not exist, people walk all over them, so much history is lost.


  1. That is a shame. I do like the historical and peaceful aspect of cemeteries, although for myself I can't bear the thought of being embalmed, sealed up in a box, and buried in hole with dirt heaped on top.

  2. I get your point Wilma but I have always been in favour of being buried in the local cemetery so that one, I'm still where I come from and also so people can find me years later.