Bathwick (Old St Mary's and St John's)

Opened: 
1808 (for Old St Mary's)
Status: 
Closed
Number of Burials: 
7,603 (from 1776)
Number of Memorials: 
141 (St John's), 400 (St Mary's)

There is a gate to Old St Mary’s in Henrietta Street and another from the pathway from Bathwick Street. Access to St John’s churchyard is either from the path in Bathwick Street or the path by the church leading from St John’s Road.

Location of Old St Mary's Churchyard and St John's Churchyard..jpg

Location of Old St Mary's Churchyard and St John's Churchyard.

Godwin’s map of 1810 and Barrett’s map of 1818 show Bathwick’s St Mary’s Church at the north-western end of Bathwick Street. The churchwardens’ account book has an entry dated 2 Dec 1811 for the payment to John Pinch for the plans for the new church, St Mary the Virgin. While the foundation stone was laid in 1814, the church was not completed until 1820. In 1818 the original St Mary’s church was demolished as part of the development of the Bathwick estate and the extension of Bathwick Street to the river and subsequently to the Cleveland Bridge, which opened in 1827. St John the Baptist, Bathwick was consecrated on 31 Jul 1862. The tower was added in 1865 and the church enlarged to the south, this being completed in 1871.

Location of the orignal church from The New Bath Guide, 1802.png

Location of the original church from The Bath Guide, 1802

Location of the original church (Barrett, 1818).png

Location of the original church (Barrett, 1818)

There are two churchyards:

  • Old St Mary’s, which has a mortuary chapel built using stone from the demolished original parish church
  • St John’s churchyard (the remnants of the original burial ground).

St Mary’s Churchyard was opened in 1808. From 1856 its use was superseded by the new churchyard in Smallcombe Vale (see separate description) but burials continued in the old ground. In the inquiry into the state  of burial grounds reported in the Bath Chronicle of Thu 26 Nov 1857 p3: “In the old ground, behind the rectory house, the number [of burials] was about 200 to Dec. 1856; and there had been 15 interments to October, 1857.” The same report described a dispute between a Mr Bullen and the Rector, Mr Scarth, over the accuracy of the documentation of who was buried where. Mr Bullen stated “The sexton’s plans upon which they [the fees] relied was fallacious, and he wished to compare it with the register ... If he were allowed to compare the two he believed he should find that hundreds of interments had been omitted from the sexton’s plan.” The sexton was claiming that there was space in the old ground for burying of the poor and the Rector was unwilling to bury the poor in the new ground unless a fee of 30/- were paid by the parish. The fee elsewhere for burial of the poor was 2s. 6d.

Burials per year Bathwick.png

Burials per year

Around 2000 a group of Friends of Old St Mary’s Churchyard was formed to restore the site and in association with the Council, and with financial help from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the vegetation was cleared and pathways put down, this being completed in 2006. In St Mary’s old churchyard, by the entrance from Henrietta Road, is an information board which shows the location of the graves of various people. One of the graves is that of John Pinch, the famous architect. The Council has also produced a Tombstone Trail leaflet.

St John’s churchyard contains the remnants of the original Bathwick graveyard. The church itself dates from 1861 and was enlarged in 1871. At its northernmost corner is the parish’s war memorial which is in the form of a crucifix. In 1928 Ebenezer Barnes, a baker living in Larkhall, attempted to saw through the wooden upright on the grounds that it was considered by him, as the papers reported at the time, “a breach of scripture and an incentive to idolatry”. He was prosecuted, found guilty, bound over to keep the peace for two years and ordered to pay for the repairs. The base of the upright was then set in concrete.

Chapel in St Mary's Old Churchyard.jpg

Chapel in St Mary's Old churchyard

St Johns Churchyard.jpg

St John's churchyard

St John's War Memorial.jpg

St John's War Memorial

 

Documentation: 

Registers of St Mary’s, Bathwick [Somerset Heritage Centre]. A DVD with images of the pages of the registers from about 1700 is available at Bath Record Office,

Burial Register Microfiches:  1668-1886 [Bath Record Office]

Transcript of the Registers of St Mary’s Parish Church of Bathwick 1813-1840 E S Jenkins (1985). Typescript with surname index. [Bath Central Library, Bath Record Office]

Bathwick Memorial Inscriptions - St Mary’s and St John’s Churches and (Old) Churchyards, The Bathwick Local History Society (2011) [Bath Record Office, Bath Central Library]