Help save the New Forest’s forgotten memorials

grave

Published Monday 27 October 2014

Long-forgotten gravestones and monuments in burial grounds are set for a new lease of life, and New Forest residents can help by identifying those most in need of conservation.

The National Park Authority is asking people to help locate any churchyards or burial grounds where there are monuments or gravestones that need to be repaired, by filling out a simple online questionnaire.

A minimum of 10 sites will be chosen, based on the number of gravestones in poor condition and the historical significance of any listed monuments.

Volunteers from across the New Forest will be trained to assess the condition of the memorials and record and photograph them, before adding them to an online portal. This website will allow anyone undertaking family or social history research anywhere in the world to locate a family memorial.

The project will be led by the New Forest National Park Authority and will form part of the £4.5 million Our Past, Our Future Landscape Partnership Scheme, which will run from 2016 once funding is confirmed.

As well as surveying and conserving monuments and gravestones in need of attention, the project also aims to map all the burial grounds in the New Forest, including recording details of who is responsible for their maintenance. This comprehensive database is being established in the New Forest for the first time, in partnership with New Forest District Council and staff in the Winchester Diocesan Office, in order to prevent more gravestones slipping into a state of disrepair.  

Frank Green, New Forest National Park Authority archaeologist, said: ‘Gravestones and monuments in cemeteries are privately owned and are usually erected by family members, so legally they are family heirlooms. 

‘This means that it is the family that has responsibility for maintaining the memorials, not the organisations that manage the burial sites. However locating family members responsible for maintaining gravestones that are hundreds of years old is virtually impossible, so this project will help ensure that these memorials, which contain so much social and family history, are kept in good order for future generations.’

If you know of gravestones or monuments in a poor state of repair in your area please fill out the questionnaire at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/memorials.

For more information about this project, including how to volunteer, email archaeology@newforestnpa.gov.uk.

The Landscape Partnership Scheme is led by the New Forest National Park Authority working alongside several delivery and funding partners including the Beaulieu Estate, Commoners Defence Association, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, National Trust, Natural England, New Forest Centre, and the New Forest Land Advice Service.

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Notable New Forest graves:

  • Alice Liddell – who inspired ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll. Alice lived in the New Forest for much of her life and, after her death in 1934, her ashes were buried in the graveyard of St Michael and All Angels, Lyndhurst
  • Arthur Conan Doyle – creator of Sherlock Holmes, is buried in the churchyard of All Saints, Minstead. The inscription on his gravestone reads in part ‘Blade straight/Steel true/Arthur Conan Doyle/Born May 22nd 1859/Passed on 7th July 1930’
  • Brusher Mills - a well-known snake catcher in the New Forest who lived from 1840 to 1905. Remembered by a marble headstone, paid for by locals, over his grave in the churchyard of St Nicholas, Brockenhurst. It includes a carving of him at work in his distinctive wide-brimmed hat.

Notes to photo editor:

A grave in the churchyard of St. Thomas and All Saints Church, Lymington.

Notes to editor:

About Our Past, Our Future

Our Past, Our Future is a Landscape Partnership Scheme for the New Forest which,
supported by Heritage Lottery Funding, will undertake a range of projects to restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest. The partnership focuses on the enclosed lands which surround the Open Forest.

The seven year scheme is being led by the New Forest National Park Authority working alongside several delivery and funding partners including the Beaulieu Estate, Commoners Defence Association, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Natural England, New Forest Centre, and the New Forest Land Advice Service.

These organisations will take collective responsibility for the delivery of the Programmes if we are successful with the Stage 2 application. The Landscape Partnership has been awarded a development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to employ a project team that will work with the partners to develop and refine the initial Stage 1 bid for the Stage 2 submission in 2015. If this is successful, then the Delivery Phase of the Scheme will run from 2016 – 2020.

For more information on Our Past, Our Future visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/landscapepartnership.

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more

Media Contact:

Matt Stroud, Communications Assistant, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650
Email: matt.stroud@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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