St Thomas à Becket and St Mark's, Widcombe

Status: 
Closed
Number of Burials: 
12,686 (from 1700)
Number of Memorials: 
422 (St Thomas à Becket), 148 (St Mark’s and about 20 documented in 1973 but now lost)

There are four cemeteries serving the parish of Widcombe and later Lyncombe:

  • the original graveyard around St Thomas à Becket church
  • a second graveyard nearby in Church Lane, originally a Bowling Alley
  • a third graveyard near St Mark’s church, but predates the building of the church
  • a fourth graveyard on the Lower Bristol Road known as the Lyncombe & Widcombe and St James’ Cemetery (described separately).

St Thomas à Becket 

The Church's Tower.jpg

The Church's tower

 
The eastern side of the Church.jpg

The eastern side of the church

The bowling alley.jpg

The Bowling Alley

The original graveyard is on three sides of the church. There were also burials in the church’s crypt. Outside the gate to the church is Widcombe parish’s war memorial.

The second burial ground in Church Lane is behind a locked door. Old deeds for the adjacent Crowe Hall refer to this as a ‘Bowling Alley’. Behind the door an impressive set of stone steps leads up to the burial area. The graves are aligned in long rows parallel to the north-eastern wall. Incised letters and numbers on the walls indicate the row letters and plot numbers.

St Mark’s

St Mark's from the East.jpg

St Mark’s from the east

Location of the third graveyard.jpg

Location of the third graveyard

The third graveyard for the parish was opened in 1825. The parish had bought the mansion in Claverton Street formerly occupied by the von Luders family. The house itself was transformed into the parish’s second Poor House and the gardens laid out as a new graveyard. At the time there was no church, this was opened in 1832, and part of the land bought for this was used as an extension to the graveyard.

There were over 6,000 burials in the cemetery – more than the Abbey cemetery – despite the small size of the plot. The major use of the cemetery was from its opening in 1825 until 1861 when the fourth cemetery was opened on the Lower Bristol Road, after which the numbers being buried declined rapidly. The burial registers show that it was the curate who was mostly responsible for carrying out the burial services, sometimes three a day, and that 43% of those buried were aged under 11. Most of its memorials have been moved to the edges of the ground and it is only in a small number of cases that a particular grave can be located.

It is of note that for a period in the 1850s St James’ parish availed itself of the right to have it parishioners buried in an adjacent parish’s graveyard and, in some years, over 30% of the burials were for inhabitants of that parish.

According to the notices on one of the gateposts the graveyard is considered as an ‘open space’. In practice, however, there is no general access to graveyard, with the gates being locked for most of the time, and opened only when the driveway on the northern side of the church is being used for parking vehicles. Access to the graveyard for viewing would need to be arranged with the Community Centre Committee.

The south-western section is under the management of the local council and a notice on the railings gives the phone number of the department responsible for it. It is still owned by the Benefice of Widcombe and there have been two applications to build on parts of the land in recent years. The council refused permission in both cases.

The entries in the St Thomas à Becket and St Mark’s burial registers have been transcribed by Widcombe Association and these, along with descriptions of external and internal monuments, is available at Bath Record Office and the Local Studies Section of Bath Central Library.  It should be noted that prior to the building of St Mark’s church all burials for Widcombe parish were entered in St Thomas à Becket’s burial register.

Number of burials per year St Marks.png

Number of burials per year

St Mary Magdalen

St Mary Magdalen, Holloway.jpg

St Mary Magdalen, Holloway

Part of St Mary Magdalen's graveyar.jpg

Part of St Mary Magdalen's Graveyard

The chapel of St Mary Magdalen in Holloway served as a chapel within the parish of Widcombe. It has its own small graveyard. A brief history is on a board outside the church.

Location of St Mary Magdalen’s graveyard (from the OS 1885 map).jpg

Location of St Mary Magdalen’s graveyard (from the OS 1885 map)

Burials in the graveyard appear in the St Thomas à Becket burial registers with an annotation stating that the burial actually occurred at St Mary Magdalen. The church is only open for services, concerts and as part of the annual Widcombe Chapel Trail, so access to the graveyard is limited.

Documentation: 

St Thomas à Becket

The documentation of the memorials within the two graveyards and the wall plaques in the church has been carried out by Widcombe Association.

St Mark’s

The Register of the Parish of Widcombe Bath. No author or date. Typescript with surname indexes. Includes burials 1592-1772. [Bath Central Library]

Transcript of the Register of St Thomas à Becket, the Parish Church of Lyncombe & Widcombe 1813-1840. E S Jenkins (1983). (Bath Record Office, Bath Central Library]

St Mark’s Cemetery, Lyncombe Bath – Burial Register Index. Widcombe Association (2009). Includes entries from the St Thomas à Becket and St Mark’s registers from 1825. [Bath Record Office, Bath Central Library]

St Mark’s Church, Lyncombe, Bath – Monument Survey, Bath Heraldic Society, 1973, revised by A C Durie, 2000 [Bath Record Office]

St Mark’s Cemetery, Lyncombe Bath – Memorial Inscriptions. Widcombe Association (2009). Includes images of the memorials and a copy of the 1911 history of the church by A G Cole. [Bath Record Office, Bath Central Library]

St Mary Magdalen

The graveyard and internal monuments have been documented in St Mary Magdalen Chapel, Bath - Monumental Inscriptions in the Chapel and Graveyard, Bath Heraldic Society, 1974.