The Churchyard at Christ Church, Totland Bay.
This is our Churchyard………..
Lives are commemorated – deaths are recorded – families are reunited – memories are made more tangible and love is undisguised. Communities accord respect, families bestow reverence, historians seek information and our heritage is thereby enriched. Testimonies of devotion, pride and remembrance are carved in stone to pay warm tribute to accomplishments, and to the life – not death – of a loved one. The churchyard is a homeland for family memorials that are a source of comfort to the living. The churchyard is a history of people – a perpetual record of yesterday and a sanctuary of peace and quiet today. A churchyard exists because every life is worth loving and remembering…………always.
In the beginning…………..
The land of approximately 1 Acre was gifted to the church for the creation of a churchyard in November 1883 by the Reverend Christopher Bowen, M.A. who was resident at ‘Heatherwood’, a property he had built on land near to the present church. Prior to that date, burials of Totland residents, (Entries 1 – 26 in Christ Church Burials Register 1) actually took place at the parish churchyard at All Saints’, Freshwater. The first burial at Christ Church took place on 13th November 1883. The churchyard was consecrated by the Bishop of Guildford on Wednesday, 23rd April 1890.
In your churchyard …………
Even though comparatively young, the churchyard has well established mix of mature and younger trees. More mature Yews, Pines, Conifers, Elms, Oaks and Sycamores are complimented by hedging on the north and south boundaries of Silver Birch, Cherry, Hazel, Rowan, Osier and Hawthorn. There have been various sightings of Red Squirrel, Badgers, Foxes, birds and butterflies all of whom enjoy the rich diversity of food sources.
In our modern age, the churchyard is a sanctuary for the living as well as those who have died. An area of peace and tranquility, where people can go to sit to enjoy nature’s flora and fauna. Churchyards should be preserved for the benefit of not just people but also plants, flowers, animals, birds, bees, and insects; whose home is the churchyard. To this end, we have tried to manage the cutting of the meadow plants and grasses by providing a central conservation area where the plants and grasses are cut after the flowering season and the plants have seeded. Various plantings of English wild flower and grasses have taken place in this area including Red Campion, Oxeye Daisies, Corn Poppies, Lady’s Bedstraw, Common Knapweed and Bulbous Buttercup along with Browntop Bent, Crested Dog’s Tail, Meadow and Sheep’s Fescue grasses. This we hope will encourage the bees and butterflies to keep returning.
The available burial area of the churchyard has recently been increased by bringing back into use an area in the south east corner that had previously been used for compostable cuttings.
Memorial Ashes Plot
The churchyard has an area for the interment of ashes with memorial plaques as you enter the churchyard near to the entrance Lych Gate.
The Garden of Remembrance
The churchyard has a Garden of Remembrance where ashes are interred. No memorials are placed in the Garden of Remembrance, but names are included in a Book of Remembrance inside the church.
Commonwealth War Graves
At Christ Church there are 5 Commonwealth War Graves. (4 are standard CWGG Headstones and 1 is a CWGC Peacetime Pattern Headstone.
Details are as follows:
- Artificer Apprentice, Stephen Rodney Rawlings, HMS Fisguard. Died 16th April 1915. Aged 18.
- Leading Boatman (C. G.), John Kewell, H. M. Coastguard, Totland Coastguard Station. Died 5th December 1915.
- Leading Carpenters Crew, B. Waterhouse, Royal Navy, HMS Victory 2. Died 3rd March 1916. Aged 25.
- Pvt. George William Budden, Hampshire Regiment. 13th (HD) Battn. Died 23rd January 1941. Aged 55.
- Petty Officer Thomas Cotton, Royal Navl reserve. Died 29th July 1943.
In addition, Christ church has memorials to 6 other war dead who have memorials around the world as follows:
- Flt. Sgt. Reginald Henry Barnes, RAF Volunteer Reserve, 158 Sqdn. Died 27th April 1943. Aged 32 (CWGC Cemetery, Runnymede. UK.
- Pvt. Arthur Edward Budden, 5th Battn. Seaforth Highlanders. Died 23rd March 1943. (CWGC Cemetery, Enfidaville, Tunisia)
- Rifleman George Alfred Dennett, Hampshire Regiment 1st/8th Battn. Died 19th April 1917 (CWWG Cemetery, Jerusalem)
- Flt. Sgt. (Nav) John Allen McClean, RAF Volunteer Reserve – 622 Sqdn. Died 31st March 1944. Aged 21 (CWWG Cemetery, Rheinburg, Germany)
- Pvt. Austin Morris, Hampshire Regiment 15th Battn. Died 20th June 1917. aged 42 (CWWG Cemetery, Lijssentheek, Belgium)
- Sgt. Arthur Whittingham, RE , Died 31st July 1917. Buried Vlamertininghe.
‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.’
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Work continues on creating a modern accurate map of the churchyard. The Stanley Churchyard Map seeks to resolve the problem of knowing who is in the churchyard but not knowing exactly where they are!.
Churchyard Memorial Transcription Teams
Run in conjunction with Churchyard Clear-Up Days, Transcription Work Days have been providing valuable information from the churchyard memorials to supplement the information from the registers. Information from memorial inscriptions, the memorial type , its condition and the location of the grave are transcribed onto a pro-forma for uploading onto the burial database.
Churchyard Clear – Up days
The churchyard has a team of volunteers who endeavour to keep the churchyard tidy throughout the year. Churchyard clear-up days are run on two Saturdays during the Spring, Summer and Autumn seasons. We endeavour to make this fun, carrying out maintenance jobs, pushing back invasive growth and tidying the formal borders. Volunteers are recruited from the congregation and the local community alike and Christ Church is part of the West Wight Cemetery Warden Scheme that seeks to promote care of Churchyards by providing tools and conservation advice and support.
If you would like more details about helping at our clear-up days please contact: email@example.com