St Michael's Churchyard
The churchyard, with its traditional yews, hollies and other trees, is both a place of rest for the dead and a historical record. At St Michael’s, visitors are first greeted by the village memorial to the dead of the First and Second World Wars. To the left, are reminders that death can be premature, including the grave of James Shaw of the Kings Head, who died in a carting accident. A memorial cross nearer the tower commemorates Edmund and Elizabeth Symes-Thompson, one of many graves for this family in the churchyard; the majority are clustered behind the tower. Some of the earliest memorials in the churchyard are in the southeast corner.They include the Bakers’ tomb, an ironstone chest tomb protected by railings, beneath which are buried Isaac Baker (died 1728) and his wife Susannah (died 1744). Behind the church, the graveyard is crowded with graves, the congestion eased by extensions in 1907 and 1955. Here, in new graves and old, are many of the familiar Finmere family names that recur throughout this book: Barnes, Barrett, Davis, Lepper, Paxton, Sikes, Tredwell and Wakelin.On 21 May 1907, a Parish Meeting was called to discuss increasing the size of the crowded churchyard. It was agreed to accept an offer of a piece of Glebe land to the east of the churchyard from the Rector and Patron. Messrs Yardley, Tredwell, Windsor and Lepper were appointed to a working party to oversee the work. Miss Alice Ashwell and Mr Cottrell were appointed collectors of funds.
On October 11th 1907, the Bishop of Oxford Francis Paget consecrated a piece of ground which was given to the Parish as an addition to the existing Church Yard by the Rector (being part of the Glebe) for a Burial Ground. The morning had been very wet but at 11.40 the Sun came out and the consecration ceremony was carried out in sunshine.
There was a good congregation of Parishioners and 4 of the neighbouring clergy were present and the consecration deed was attested by the Reverend R.R. Kirby, Rector of Mixbury & the Reverend P.E. Raynor, Rector of Tingewick. The Expenses connected with the fencing, levelling, etc. and also the legal—amounting to £37 were defrayed by the parish with good will. (Reverend Henry Trower in the Rectors’ Book)
The collection from the village raised £32 13s 6d; the balance was contributed by the Rector. Motorised mowers are not well suited to traditional churchyards and on 15 September 1980 the Parochial Church Council agreed to ask for a faculty (permission) to level mounds in the churchyard to make mowing easier. Several graves were placed at the east edge of the churchyard.
In 2003, kerb stones were removed from several graves in the north churchyard, and the north and east edges cleaned of debris by David Smith. Turf was excavated from several flat gravestones, revealing a number of previously unknown graves (pictures).
In addition and under the project management of David Smith, funds were raised for the purchase of a 'motorised, ride-on' mower.
In 2009, it was deemed that the graveyard western boundary wall, originally wood but replaced by a dry stone wall in the 1700's, was in danger of collapse. Funds were raised and aided by a grant from the National Lottery, the wall was replaced (picture) in 2010 at a cost of £8000
Gravestones and Memorials
Chart (date unknown) of grave locations
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(select for larger pic)