Baptist Burial Ground, Lyncombe

Opened: 
About 1807
Status: 
Closed
Number of Memorials: 
55
Access: 

Only open during the Bath Heritage Open Days (September). Within easy walking distance of the station via the Halfpenny Bridge. Although there is parking in nearby St Marks Road, this is limited in availability.

The second Baptist Burial Ground is located at the foot of Lyncombe Hill between Southcot Place and Claverton Street. It was part of the grounds of Southcot House and was granted to the Somerset Street Baptist Church by one of its deacons, Opie Smith in about 1807. Opie Smith and others were responsible for the development of other parts of the land for houses at the bottom of Lyncombe Hill and Southcot Place.

Entrance Gate on Lyncombe Hill.jpg

Entrance Gate on Lyncombe Hill

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Layout

No burial register or burial order books has survived but Kerry Birch notes in his book Waters of the Son – Baptists in Georgian Bath that “The number of burials is unknown although probably considerable, for a correspondent in 1958 noted from the register that between 1807 and 1853 there were 324 children interred it the ground, and 204 of these were under 2 years of age”. There are references in obituaries to burials in the graveyard and the 51 remaining memorial attest to a mere 103 burials. Across Bath’s cemeteries, around this period, about 50% of burials were for children aged under 11. The graveyard was closed by Order in Council in 1887 although some burials occurred after this. Over the approximately 80 years of its use the number of burials would have been over 1,000.

The entrance to the burial ground, between numbers 5 and 9 Lyncombe Hill, formerly had a gatehouse. Bath in Time (https://www.bathintime.co.uk/) has a drawing of the arched entrance by Peter Coard in 1966 (Image 19352) and a photograph of the rear of the structure from the graveyard circa 1970 (Image 52269) as well as some photographs of its demolition also circa 1970.

The plots are arranged in a grid with row letters from A (nearest the gate) to T. Stone markers (most of which survive) indicate the rows.

During the late 20th century the survival of the burial ground was called into question. Consideration was given to using the land as resident’s parking spaces, then as a site for sheltered housing. In the 1990s it was transferred to Bath Preservation Trust, the undergrowth cleared and repairs carried out. It is only accessible once a year as part of the Bath Heritage Open Days held each September (usually but not always) coinciding with the Sunday of the Widcombe Chapel Trail.

Documentation: 

Neither the burial registers for the Baptist chapel after 1836 nor the associated gravediggers’ register of plots and occupants has survived. As a result, it is impossible to give a definitive list of those buried.

The National Archives RG4/1760 Bath (Baptist) 1784-1836 contains a list of baptisms and burials for the Somerset Street Chapel. The level of detail for the burials is variable and has some entries which just state ‘Buried a Child’ and others which have ‘child of ...’, specifying the father’s name. The transition from the use of the Snow Hill to the Lyncombe Hill burial ground is not evident from the entries.