Smallcombe Vale (Bathwick Burial Board)

Opened: 
1861
Status: 
Closed
Number of Burials: 
2,147
Number of Memorials: 
264
Maintenance: 

The cemetery used to be strimmed monthly during the growing season. From 2012 this is now confined to an annual strimming with periodic mowing of paths during the growing season.

Access: 

Access to the cemetery is via a private road from Horseshoe Walk. There are no signs in Horseshoe Walk indicating the presence of the cemetery. A notice by the entrance states that parking is solely for those visiting the graves.

The Smallcombe Vale cemetery is adjacent to St Mary’s Churchyard and set on the northern side of Widcombe Hill. It was administered by the Bathwick Burial Board and opened in 1861 with the first burial occurring on 22 Feb 1861. It has an octagonal nonconformist mortuary chapel designed by Alfred S Goodridge. This chapel is now privately owned.

View from the south-west.jpg

View from the south-west

View from the sout-east.jpg

View from the south-east

The cemetery has separate Anglican and nonconformist areas with a line of stones marking the boundary between the two. The nonconformist section was used by a variety of denominations and, curiously, the officiating minister was in 14% of cases Anglican.

Demarcation Stones.jpg

Demarcation Stones

There were 2,147 burials – 1,311 Anglican and 836 nonconformist. The cemetery has relatively few memorials; there are 264 memorials for 950 graves. When the fees were being set for the cemetery it was recognised that they might be too expensive for the poor of the parish and a low fee was set for common graves. About 70% of those buried had occupations of servant, labourer or craftsman. This is in contrast to the adjacent St Mary’s Churchyard where over 55% were in professional occupations, in the military, were clergy or fundholders.

The overall shape of the cemetery is roughly triangular with its apex at the lowest level by the road from Horseshoe Walk to St Mary’s Churchyard.

It is surrounded by a stone wall which, in addition to the gate by the road, has two gaps in the eastern wall which lead to St Mary’s Churchyard. These gaps would originally have gates as the remains of one was found in the undergrowth.

In conformity with the designs of cemetery in the mid-19th century, influenced by the ideas of John Claudius Loudon who designed Bath Abbey cemetery, most of the paths are winding and, at the lower levels, there are some evergreen trees.

On entering the cemetery, on the right-hand side is an octagonal, nonconformist mortuary chapel.

The graves have been laid out in parallel rows which go up the hill. An exception to the use of this grid arrangement is in the lower level on the eastern side where the rows are aligned with a winding path. A line of stones marks the separation between consecrated (Anglican) area on the eastern side and the unconsecrated (non-conformist) areas on the western side.

The borders on the eastern and western sides were overgrown by laurel bushes but most of these have recently been cut back. The upper levels have trees and undergrowth to varying degrees.

Except for the area by the chapel, the ground is steep. Paths lead lead up to higher, level ground and then further up to a terrace where there are few memorials. Some of the graves in the upper section of the Anglican area are on a steep bank and are not readily accessible. There are two gaps in the eastern wall that lead into St Mary’s Churchyard. Formerly these had gates and the remains of one of these is in the undergrowth. The northern section by the chapel is covered by large laurel bushes and access to this area is difficult.

Layout of Smallcombe Vale Cemetery.jpg

Layout of Smallcombe Vale Cemetery

The first burial occurred on 22 Feb 1861 and was in the non-conformist section, the officiating minister being Octavius Winslow, minister of Kensington Chapel, Bath. There were only three burials during 1861, all in the nonconformist section. The first burial in the Anglican section occurred on 23 Mar 1862 and was for a child aged 4. The second burial in this section was on 14 Jul 1864 and was for a stillborn child. It wasn’t until 1870 that the numbers of burials per year exceeded 20 and that the usage of the Anglican section became significant.

The denominations or groups that used the nonconformist section of the graveyard were: Baptist, Congregational, City Missionary, Calvinist, Methodist, Moravian, Protestant Church of England, Presbyterian, Plymouth Brethren, Salvation Army, Swedenborgian and Unitarian.

Burials by year 1861-1874.png

Burials by year 1861-1874

Denominations of officiating ministers for the nonconformist section.png

Denominations of officiating ministers for the nonconformist section

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Number of burials per year

 

Notable Graves

Z.K.60

Henry Hanson Schubart (1903-1968)

From a German merchant’s family he worked in the USA as a picture dealer before becoming a picture restorer in London and then Director of the Bristol Art Gallery. He is buried with his two sisters.

Z.E.49

Thomas Henry Thornton (1832-1913)

A judge and member of the legislature in Punjab.

W.H.40

Frank William Goodridge (1831-1864)

Architect and son of Henry Edmund Goodridge (1797-1864), architect.

X.A.4

Kinard Baghot de la Bere (1837-1932)

An engineer who studied under Brunel. He worked on projects in South America and Ireland before pursuing a career in agriculture. He wrote various books on agricultural topics.

V.G.34

Edward Hancock (1798-1863)

Wine & spirit merchant. Elected Councillor for St James parish from the introduction of the Municipal Act in 1835 which allowed ratepayers to vote. Alderman.

 

Documentation: 

Smallcombe Vale Cemetery – Memorial Inscriptions. The Bathwick Local History Society (2011). Includes name and location indexes for all buried in the cemetery with photographs of each memorial with transcriptions of the inscriptions . [Bath Record Office, Bath Central Library]