Lynsted Church of Saints Peter and Paul - Graveyard Monuments and Inscriptions

Project Background

From May 2007 to August 2009, Lynsted with Kingsdown Society led a survey of gravestones and inscriptions surrounding the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Lynsted, Kent. The Society saw the urgency and importance of making a permanent record before further damage is done by weathering.

Gravestones date between 1671 (Elizabeth Smith) and 1944 (Archibald Barling), there are also several more recent cremation memorials.

Later burials have taken place in the nearby graveyard extension that has yet to be surveyed.

Access and Use

The Society Committee decided that this research should be made widely available to family researchers and to others with an interest in the Parish.

* If you wish to print your own copy from that PDF file, you may find it helpful to change the 'page set-up' for your printer to "Duplex" and "short-side stapling".

* Please acknowledge the "Lynsted with Kingsdown Society" when using or referencing this research in any publication.

Notes on Procedures and Interpretation

A survey of the gravestones and their inscriptions was carried out between May 2007 and August 2009 by members of the Lynsted with Kingsdown Society. Care was taken to avoid damage to the lettering and to minimise disturbance to the lichens growing on the stone surfaces.

The grave positions on the plan are indicative only. The position of a given stone is not intended to be precise, but its relative location with respect to neighbouring graves, trees and structures should be reasonably accurate. The graves have been numbered in a sequence beginning in the sector west of the main gate in Ludgate Lane and moving in a clockwise direction around the church building. Numbering is, as far as feasible, in rows running east to west alternating with west to east, i.e. 'shuttle-wise'.

Some footstones, being relatively light, have been moved, at some time in the past, to the boundary of the churchyard. No attempt has been made to 'match' these to their original graves. Two batches of footstones, 13 to 25, and 59 to 69, together with other smaller stones or fragments, are in stacks against the boundary wall and are marked as groups on the plan. Other individual footstones are also against the boundary wall, as indicated. Footstones are recorded individually, unless in their original positions and/or clearly associated with a grave. Two memorials, numbers 158 and 159, are set into the wall of the mausoleum extension at the south east of the church. Fragments of masonry, crosses, etc, bearing no inscription, have not been recorded.

The approximate extent of a tree canopy at the time of recording has been represented on the map as a disk. The bole of the tree should be taken as in the centre of the disk.

Regarding stone composition, 'limestone' has been used as a term to include marble and ragstone, where weathering has made the exact nature of the stone uncertain. Composition was tested by the dilute acid method.

The inscription record is as observed on the stones. No attempt has been made to guess at obscure or missing letters or numbers. Spelling is as engraved. Following accepted procedure, all names have been recorded in capitals and all other text in lower case, whether or not this is so on the stones. The record is, of course, the 'best estimate' of the lettering at the time. No doubt further letters, and indeed errors, will reveal themselves under different conditions of lighting, etc. Anyone who makes such discoveries is encouraged to contact the Society. Telephone contacts can be found here.

This record of inscriptions has been supplemented by corresponding images in a larger, A4, reference booklet that is lodged securely in the church for visitors to consult. The complete written and pictorial record is also to be found on this web site. (Bob Baxter)

Project Credits

The Lynsted with Kingsdown Society is most grateful to the Lynsted-with-Kingsdown Parochial Church Council for kindly allowing access to the graveyard; to David Wood, Churchwarden, for discussions on his earlier researches on the inscriptions within and outside the church; to Margaret Burns, Kent Family History Society, for advice and an invaluable introductory workshop; and to Andrew Ashbee for helpful advice from time to time. The practical help of several members of the Teynham and Lynsted Historical Society is also gratefully acknowledged.

Reports on the unfolding Project

Norma and Bob Baxter: First formed after our training event (5th May 2007) Members were invited to join a group to build a record of monumental inscriptions in Lynsted churchyard before they deteriorate even further. With over half the 182 gravestones catalogued before the winter months, there was much to be done in 2008 with the warmer weather. We hoped, during 2008, to record the remaining stones, re-assessing the 'difficult', badly weathered ones, preparing a map of the graveyard - and publication.

Norma and Bob Baxter thought it would be a good idea to have a session 'on site' to launch the 2008 programme (17th May), compare notes and experiences on methods - and welcome members who would like to help with this fascinating project. The techniques are fairly simple, and these were demonstrated at the session. There is a danger of damaging the very lettering one is attempting to decipher, however, so basic methods need to be understood.

Expert Preparation

On 5th May 2007, Margaret Burns, of the Kent Family History Society, led a fascinating two hour presentation that included a walk around the graveyard to see examples of problems we would face and techniques to unravel the more difficult inscriptions. A wide range of stones, ages and inscriptionsare found here; the stones are still (as yet) in family groups, though many are in an advanced state of decay. These Monuments and inscriptions are a priceless record of local history.

Training session - Recording Monuments and Inscriptions

Recommended supplementary reading: Pamela Burgess - Churchyards (out of print)

Margaret Burns trains graveyard surveyors for Lynsted ProjectMargaret Burns explained her interest, shared by her mother, in family history that led her to develop her expertise in reading churchyard monumental inscriptions. The talk began with slides showing how monuments have changed over time from early, relatively crude, stones to more ornate carved examples (17th century onwards) and plain descriptive tablets of the Victorian era.

She also shared some maps (including the St Michael Churchyard in nearby Hartlip), and suggested some techniques used to tease out difficult inscriptions. Finally, she walked us around parts of the Lynsted Churchyard to help bring to life her talk through some fascinating observations. For example, how the ground-level of graveyards built up around pathways as more burials were added over the centuries.

Her illustrations were drawn from nearby (Faversham) and further afield (Cotswolds). Margaret emphasised the importance of clear records throughout a project, patience, and respect for the fragility of some stones and lichens when trying to read them. The written record can be found on headstones, kerbstones, footstones, monuments and are often supplemented with symbols (skull = death; cherubs = heaven; etc).

Bob Baxter using a 'reading tube'Bob Baxter is pictured here using a reading tube for difficult-to-read inscriptions. Using a 'shadow tube' alters the incidence of light in a way that can help clarify lettering under investigation.

Of course, sometimes inscriptions have simply been lost because they have flaked off (sandstone behaves in this way for example). Where lead letters have been used, they fall out. On limestone, rain damage can make it a very real detective story to make out the inscriptions - sometimes helped by family groups of stones. We are fortunate that Lynsted Church has kept its stones where they were originally placed - in other graveyards the pursuit of easy maintenance led to stones being stacked at the edges or in straight lines along pathways. This tends to look very contrived and you lose some of the context. So, making a full record now is desperately important for future generations.

And when you are in doubt or simply defeated by an inscription, you may have to visit old Parish Records that (in our case) are lodged in the Canterbury archives.

If you enjoy a good detective story and are inspired by the contribution this group made ... the Extension Graveyard would benefit from a similar survey to open another "stone book" to tell the story of our Church, its congregation and parisioners over the centuries. It is never too soon to record our history.

Practical Hints for the Recording of Monumental Inscriptions

List of Useful Items to take with you on the day:

Method of Working

Before you actually start work, prepare a plan for the day.

1. Identify the area that you plan to cover and find out if any part of it has been done before.
Prepare a map or plan of the area, identifying each plot with a numbered box.
Elect (if part of a group) an organiser so that:-

Example of the Record Card

Head the card with the Surname(s) which appears on the Inscription.
On the right, name the Cemetery / Churchyard being recorded followed by the 'box' number. The Section details should already be recorded on the working plan.

BROWN   Hawkinge 1
In / Loving Memory / of/ ANNE / The Wife
of/ John BROWN / who Died Decr 2nd 1891 /
Aged 76 years/
Sandstone Headstone & Footstone
Any other distinguishing features; pto
  A. B./1891

Note how the forward slash (/) is used to denote a new line on the memorial.

Collating Information

  1. Check completed cards a. with the map b. with the Burial Registers
  2. Renumber, if required, the map and cards to provide continuity.
  3. Type cards into 'computer' in numerical order
  4. Put cards into alpha, order for search index. For onward production of 'fiche and / or CD-ROM files, the following may require some changes.
  5. Trace map onto thick tracing paper for extra copies to be made.
  6. Duplicate, photocopy, scan etc for fellow volunteers.
  7. Make sure that the churchyard/cemetery 'manager' receives a copy of your 'map' and subsequently a copy of the 'polished' article. This will ensure that anybody with like plans, does not copy the same material.

Materials Used for Memorials

a. Sandstone, b. Limestone, c. Marble, d. Granite (or composite).
a. Metal, usually copper alloys, b. Lead, usually for lettering.
Marble or Granite chips, used with Kerbstone surrounds.
Thank you very much for viewing these pages.

Having taken whatever notes you may require, I hope that you realise that, until you try it, you will not know how much pleasure can be derived by being out in the fresh air, with pleasant company, doing something which may "unearth" one of your own ancestral links.

Remember that many churches, and therefore their churchyards, were accompanied by some form of hostelry. A lunchtime break with a glass of amber and a sandwich will also help to pass the time and hopefully encourage you to go back and help finish the work.

Whatever happens that may dampen your spirits,

Don't give up easily

Monuments & Inscriptions Pages