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Sharp-eyed schoolgirls help discover lost grave at Newtown Road Cemetery

Youngsters were attending the Primrose Day open day.

Chris Ord


01635 886639

Sharp-eyed schoolgirls help discover lost grave at Newtown Road Cemetery

THREE local schoolgirls helped to uncover a long-forgotten gravestone during an open day at Newtown Road Cemetery in Newbury recently.

During the cemetery’s Primrose Day open day, the Find-a-Grave service was put to the test by Carol Brindley – who wanted to know where her great-great-uncle, James Stocker, was buried.

As the ‘plot book’ disappeared sometime in the 1950s, the Friends of Newtown Road Cemetery could only guess at the general area.

Despite a lengthy search, the group admitted defeat, with the lettering on many of the stones having worn away.

However, as the adults gave up, youngsters Georgie and Frankie Godfrey and Jess Courtney – who had joined in the search – stumbled on an old grave where the first name could just be made out.

Ros Clow, of Friends of Newtown Cemetery, said: “The girls shouted that they had found something else and when we checked it was clear that the first name was James.

“It was great they didn’t give up and Carol was able to find the grave of her great, great uncle.”

According to records, James Matthews Stocker died in 1893, aged 32. Mrs Clow said: “He wasn’t a rich man; he lived in a yard off Bartholomew Street, so it is surprising that there was a memorial stone for him.

“At the time of his death he was coachman to Dr Bunny.

“So perhaps Dr Bunny paid for the stone?

“The stonemason records are missing too, so we shall never know.”

Other activities on the open day included an Easter egg hunt, craft activities in the chapel and the usual display of poisonous plants found that morning in the cemetery.

The cemetery’s next open day will be on June 21, from 6pm.

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