Grave undertaking complete
Cemetery records preserved for posterity
AN ambitious project to record all those buried in St Saviour’s cemetery in Eddington has been completed.
The records – all now annotated for posterity in spreadsheets – will help local historians and people seeking to research their Hungerford family history.
The work was undertaken during the past six months by former town council finance officer Maggie Gibbs, with help from town clerk Claire Barnes and deputy clerk Alison Blake.
As well as helping to compile the records, Ms Blake even took a broom to some of the old gravestones whose inscriptions had been obscured by the detritus of the decades.
Ms Blake said: “People sometimes come in or telephone requiring information about who is buried there, and the exact location of a headstone. There were incomplete records and bits of paper everywhere.
“We now have a spreadsheet so we can access that information for them.
“It was quite a big job and I took my trusty broom to sweep some of the graves and headstones to read them. They date back to the mid-1800s.”
Chairwoman of Hungerford Town Council’s environment and planning committee, Carolann Farrell, said: “It’s very important that we know, to the best of our knowledge, where every grave is. If people come in looking for a particular grave we can now look at our single spreadsheet and there it is. It was a massive task and they did a wonderful job.”
However, the records can never be totally complete.
In 2010 the town council embarked on a refurbishment of the site and, in doing so, discovered a number of unmarked graves from the 1700s.
Research showed that these were the resting places of poor townsfolk, often from the local workhouse, and there were no markers.
The town council arranged for three sarsen stones to be placed on the site, along with a memorial plaque.
These were blessed by former town vicar, Rev Andrew Sawyer, at a special ceremony in March, 2011.
Eileen Blunt, of the Hungerford Historical Association, helped identify the site and records showed that there were 135 paupers in Hungerford Workhouse in 1841.
By 1851 the number was 219, comprising those who were too poor, old, infirm or mentally unfit to provide for themselves. Unmarried pregnant women were also admitted when their families disowned them, leaving them destitute.
It is not known where the early workhouse was located but records show that it was moved to the High Street between 1775 and 1779.
In 1835 it was decided that Hungerford Workhouse was to be closed and the paupers were transferred to the workhouse at Lambourn.
The paupers remained there until 1848, when the newly-built Hungerford Workhouse was opened.