History of the Village of Stoney Middleton

By Thomas E. Cowen (1910)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2003

History of the Village of Stoney MiddletonTHE CHURCHYARD

THE CHURCHYARD.

In the churchyard there is part of an ancient stone font carved in good Gothic style. This was removed from the Church in 1861, and placed in a corner of the churchyard overshadowed by some light trees. From an accurate drawing of it taken some years before it was evidently octagonal in shape, “three sides of which are ornamented with shields - two shields are plain and the other has a chevron, the arms of the Eyres of Hassop”, It is of excellent design. It was

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doubtless given to the Church by Robert Eyre, who married the heiress, Joan Padley. The Padleys inherited property in the township through marriage with the Bernakes, and it is very possible that Robert Eyre on his alliance with Padley not only gave the font to the Church, but built the present tower, as well as the body of the Church that was swept away in 1759. Robert Eyre died in 1459, and his wife in 1463. A mural monument erected to the memory of a famous Equestrian, William Capps, gentleman, of Stoney Middleton, dated 1703, was also fastened to the wall of the Church. Near the east window stood the tomb of Hannah Baddeley, dated 1764. It would appear that these memorials were removed in 1861 at the restoration of the Church.

The old Churchyard adjoining the Church was closed for interments in 1878, and land was obtained from Mr. Michael Hunter, of Stoke, and a new Cemetery, with Lych Gate, north-east of the Church, was consecrated. This was drained in 1908, the cost of which was defrayed by public subscription.

The churchyard is not infrequently visited by the tourist, who will recall the lines from Gray's immortal Elegy:

“Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?”

Here, too, are recorded the “short and simple annals of the poor”, and we read the uncertainty of human life.

The work of writing suitable epitaphs was divided between the village schoolmaster and the parish clerk.

A tombstone, of a chorister, stands in a south aspect of the Church -

In Memory of George, the son
of George and Margaret Swift of
Stoney Middleton who departed
this life, August 21st 1759 on the
20th Year of his age.
We the Quior of Singers of the
Church erected this Stone.
(The lower part is indecipherable.)

An epitaph, somewhat peculiar in these modern days, shows the limitation of medical skill -

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Here
lieth the body of
Sarah the Wife of
Philip Hill
of Grindeford Bridge
who departed this life
March 30th 1801 Aged 33 Years
“With patience to the laft fhe did submit
And murmur'd not at what the Lord thought fit
After a lingering illness, grief and pain
When Doctors fkill and phyfsic prov'd in vain
She with a Chriftian courage did refign
Her foul to God at his appointed time.”

On the right of the Church is the grave of the village carpenter, with some of the implements of his calling carved on the tombstone -

To the Memory of
Anthony Buxton
who died May 28th 1821
Aged 44 years.
“A loving husband, a tender parent dear
A faithful friend, and honest man lies here”.

Near the Church door is the tombstone of Joseph Sellers.[1] He was doubtless a member of the choir, and the “Old Hundred” tune cut on the stone would substantiate this:

To the Memory of
Joseph Sellers
son of John and Elizabeth Sellers
who died May 16th, 1828.

THE VILLAGE STOCKS once stood near the Church gates towards the right. These were removed about the year 1849.

[1] The office of parish clerk has been held in this family for many years. In 1813 John Sellers, clerk and schoolmaster - (he would doubtless have a small private school) - made “A Copey from the Monement of Mr. William Capps”, which monument was destroyed in 1861.

End of Chapter IV: => THE ROMAN BATHS

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in February 2003.

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