Reighton: Reighton Churchyard gravestones etc..




The majority of these photographs were taken by Doreen Laycock and me (Lisa Blosfelds) on the morning of Tuesday the 21st of June 2011, the weather being overcast but dry. However, on checking that all the graves had been photographed I found that some half dozen had been missed. These I took on the following Thursday morning, the 23rd, when a steady drizzle was falling. Views of the churchyard and the church exteriors were also taken on the Thursday. Further photographs were taken by Doreen on Monday the 8th of August, and a final batch was taken by me between 10 and 11 on the morning of Tuesday the 27th of September, a warm and sunny autumn morning.

In the list below the grave number given in brackets indicates the number given to it in the EYFHS's booklet 'Reighton Monumental Inscriptions' published in 1995 where a full transcription of the inscription will be found. Several burials have taken place since the booklet was published and are, therefore, not included in it. In these cases the memorials are listed with the name of the person who occupies the plot. The gravestone of Rita Mary Marshall appeared between June and September 2011 and so does not appear in some views of the churchyard. Please note that gravestones 27 and 39a in the MI booklet are fallen and have not been photographed. In some cases more than one picture has been taken of the same gravestone, for instance the grave of William and Ann Waites (pictures 13 and 14), whose stone is inscribed on both sides, and the grave of the Willatt and Slack family (pictures 96 and 97) which has two stones on it which face each other. The two pictures of the grave of May Strickland Rowley were taken before and after I had trampled down the weeds.

The order of the photographs is as follows: first is a complete set of photographs of the gravestones in the churchyard in the order that they appear in the EYFHS's booklet of Reighton monumental inscriptions. Graves which are not listed in this booklet appear in the correct numerical position in relation to those around them. Secondly there is a tour of the churchyard and exterior of the church taking a route which is roughly in a figure of 8, firstly clockwise around the church and the northern part of the churchyard, then anticlockwise around the southern half of the churchyard. (I was once told that the devil appears to anyone who walks six times widdershins (anti clockwise) around a church and carries them off to hell. Try it at your peril.). Thirdly there is an anticlockwise tour of the interior of the church followed by a couple of oddments added for interest. The old photographs of the church and the list of vicars will be found hanging on the inside western wall of the church at the foot of the tower. These are slightly out of focus in some cases as they are photographs of pictures which are behind glass. The notes in square brackets in the transcribed list of vicars are taken from the parish records. The photographs were originally taken by following the numbering given to the graves in the 1995 EYFHS 'Reighton Monumental Inscriptions' booklet so as to avoid missing any out. In the event three were missed and a few others had to be re-taken due to poor light conditions (which is why I found myself deep in wet nettles taking photographs of gravestones in the pouring rain - and happy as could be).

The plan of the churchyard was drawn up by tracing the outlines of the church and churchyard from an aerial image taken from Google Earth which was then blown up from A4 to A3 to allow for the addition of symbols and numbers. This was done by using photographs taken from different angles (of which many more were taken than appear on this disk) and checking on site. The finished plan was then shrunk down again from A3 to A4.

Reighton churchyard stands at the top of a hill with farmland to the north and east, a lane to the south with the late Georgian old vicarage beyond it (which itself replaced an earlier structure which was built in the local chalk with a thatched roof), and the Bridlington to Filey road to the west. There are fine views over Filey Bay for anyone who cares to take a peep through the northern hedge.

The path from the gate to the porch and around the front of the church is deeply entrenched, though it is impossible to say whether this is due to the number of burials or simply to the wearing away of the ground over the years. The area to the north of the church slopes gently away to the top of the hill. The southern part of the churchyard was extended in 1924 onto what once formed part of the Georgian vicarage's garden. The two large trees probably indicate the line of the earlier boundary as checking the dates on the memorials shows that those to the north of the trees mostly date from before 1924 whereas all those to the south of the trees date from after 1924. The first burial in the extension was that of Brenda Rotherham Hayward (picture 62) who died aged five weeks on 24 October 1924 and is buried in the extreme south west corner. A map of about 1800 in the East Yorkshire Archives (cat no DDGD/900) shows that an even older vicarage once stood in what it now the south eastern corner of the present churchyard and describes it as 'a small dilapidated cottage', while the terrier of 1777 describes it as 'built of white stones and thatched'. The remains of it probably still exist under the sexton's shed (see picture 219). The same map also shows outbuildings standing immediately to the right of the main gateway as one enters. A distinct change in the level of the ground will be noted near the churchyard's southern boundary (see pictures 218 and 219) where the cremation plots will be found between a row of mature trees and the boundary hedge. The hedge seems to be of a relatively recent date and may indicate a further small extension to the churchyard. A gate in the hedge allowed the vicar direct access to the churchyard from the back garden of the old vicarage and now leads into the lane. The Georgian vicarage stands immediately to the south of the churchyard and although it is now a private house it can be glimpsed from the road. The most modern vicarage is over the road opposite the church but is also now a private house. The present incumbent lives in Flamborough as Reighton is now part of the 'Headland Benefice' which comprises Reighton, Speeton, Bempton and Flamborough.

The oldest gravestones are those in front of the church and to the right of the path from the gate to the church porch. The oldest is likely to be the table tomb (pictures 144 and 145) which may date back to Tudor times and is obviously that of some village grandee. The oldest memorial to traceable individuals is the stone at the foot of the tower dedicated to the two sons of Richard Tindall (picture 29) who were buried in 1768 and 1769 (this may have been moved during the restoration of the church), but the oldest dated gravestone is that of Francis Jordan (picture 142) just to the right of the church door which is dated 1789. Gravestones from the Victorian era are mostly to be found to the west of the church between the tower and the road while those of the Edwardian era are to be found to the east. The graves in the churchyard extension are in neat rows whereas those of earlier times are irregularly placed. Some of the most recent graves of all are the row of cremation plots alongside the southern hedge of the churchyard. The dearth of monuments to the north of the church is explained by the fact that this was traditionally the burial place of the less respectable members of the community, as well as unidentified bodies washed up on the beach, it being the part of the churchyard least likely to be frequented by visitors. Conversely the war memorial stands in the most prominent position of all, immediately facing the gate. Clergymen and members of their families are to be found buried close to the church, as are churchwardens. Families also tend to be buried close together. There are three generations of Andrew Clarks buried next to each other (pictures 136 to 138) and the graves of the Cranswick family are all in a row along the right side of the path from the gate to the church door. Joseph Hewitt and his sons are buried immediately in front of his parents in law Danby and Easter Jemmeson (Doreen's ancestors) close to the western hedge (pictures 3 and 11). Comparing the inscriptions on the monuments with the Victorian censuses for Reighton and Speeton reveals that gravestones were not inordinately expensive and were within the reach of all but the very poorest of parishoners. As many agricultural labourers are commemorated as landowners and tradesmen. Among others the Bowsers, Clarkes, Cranswicks and Robsons were farmers. Joseph Holtby was the village joiner cum wheelwright, Matthew Crawford was a blacksmith and Thorpe Stubbs was a shoemaker cum cordwainer. In such a small village craftsmen were probably expected to have a working knowledge of all aspects of their trade. Thomas Oman was the first landlord of the Dotterel (which opened in 1822) while the Pierceys held the tenancy for most of the latter half of the nineteenth century. William Jesse Maplesden, who is buried in the extreme north east corner of the churchyard (picture 41), was a retired seaman who came to the village to serve as a coastguard. The Sellers, Scriveners, Pudseys and Eelbecks (among others) were farm workers. It should also be noted that many of the people buried in Reighton churchyard came from Speeton which has no churchyard of its own apart from a tiny enclosure around the church.

Several of the memorial stones are of interest in their own right. Picture 23 shows the gravestone of Elizabeth Cowton who lived to be 103. She was baptised at Reighton on 22 September 1776 and died in Bridlington on 8 June 1878. Censuses show she was by turns a lady's maid, lodging house keeper and living on her own means. The graves of the Bowser family (picture 9), William and Elizabeth Moon (picture 59) and Ruth Marshall (picture 61) are very attractive, while that of Rita Marshall (picture 195) has some lovely Celtic style lettering. For me the most poignant memorial is that of May Strickland Rowley which is tucked away behind the church in its outside north east angle. May was the daughter of Nathaniel Constantine Strickland (picture 161), for many years vicar of Reighton, and the grand daughter of Sir William Strickland of Boynton Hall. On 14 August 1879 at the age of 19 she married her father's curate, William Rowley, who was then aged 24. The 1891 census shows them living at the vicarage with a 9 year old daughter, Mabel. May died on Christmas Day 1892 at the age of 32 and was buried on 28 December.

Inside the church the font, chancel arch and door corbel are of particular interest as they are all of Norman origin. The font is in the form of a Roman altar and is carved with a different design on each of its four sides (pictures 259 - 262). The arch is described by Pevsner as being likely to date from the 1130's while the stone head to the right of the door as one enters (picture 238) is also probably of a similar date. Pictures 263 to 267 show the church as it appeared around the turn of the twentieth century when the brick built tower collapsed and extensive repairs and restoration had to be made. The picture of the church interior shows the original box pews. The floor was originally paved with stones from the beach (which can still be found at the foot of the tower) but these were covered by tiles when the church was restored around the turn of the twentieth century. Curiously although there are memorial windows and monuments in the church there seem to have been no actual burials under its floor.

Finally it should be remembered that although there are only about 170 memorials in Reighton church and churchyard, and the parish records start in 1559 (the first burial recorded being that of Margaret Awmond on 27 December 1559) there is likely to have been a church on this site since Saxon times. In the 361 years between January 1560 and December 1921 about 1,557 people were buried at Reighton. (It is impossible to tell the precise number as the condition of the earliest parish register is such that in some cases records have faded away.) However, given that there has probably been a church on this site since about the year 800 and that the population of the village and the death rate are likely to have remained roughly constant, there are probably over 5,000 human burials in the old part of Reighton Churchyard alone. These few stones, therefore, commemorate only a tiny proportion of the people who must have been buried in this small patch of land.

These photos of the Reighton Churchyard gravestones etc. were taken in 2014 and consequently no graves after this date appear here.

The links given below take you to the first page of the relevant surname.

The number for the photograph is given in the caption below the photograph, with (were applicable) the MI number from the EYFHS's booklet given in brackets.

There are three sizes of photos: the thumbnail images which link to a page containing a larger image (640 by 480 pixels), and then a full size image which is linked from the previously mentioned larger image. The full size image can of course be saved for your own personal use.

The list of photographs

The photographs:

  • General
  • Photos of the gravestones:
Atkinson  Baldry  Baron  Bassett  Bayes  Bilton 
Bowser  Boyes  Bradshaw  Brooke  Buckley  Chapman 
Clarke  Claxton  Clements  Clubley  Cockings  Coggin 
Cook  Cowton  Cranswick  Crawford  Crowe  Dickinson 
Dodd  Dunn  Edmond  Eelbeck  Ellis  Ellison 
Else  Elvidge  Emmerson  Evison  Ezard  Finney 
Fleck  Ford  Foweather  Gilbank  Goddard  Grattan 
Hall  Hayward  Hewitt  Hoggard  Holtby  Hood 
Hurt  Hutchinson  Hyde-Parker  Ingram  Jackson  JEF 
Jemmeson  Johnson  Jordan  Keeling  Kelly  Knapton 
Liddle  Macer  Mainprize  Maplesden  Marshall  Martin 
McClaren  Midgley  Milner  Milson  Monkman  Moon 
Nelson  Noble  Oman  Partington  Phippen  Piercy 
Pudsey  Reed  Richmond  Ridley  Robinson  Robson 
Rogan  Rooks  Rowley  Sambourne  Scrivener  Sellers 
Sharpe  Sheldon  Skelton  Slack  Smith  Speck 
Staveley  Stubbs  Sugden  Taylor  Temple  Tennison 
Thomson  Thrower  Tindel  Tomlinson  Townsend  Turner 
Unknown  Waites  Walker  War_Memorial  Watson  White 
Whitfield  Whiting  Whittaker  Williams  Wilson  Wragg 
Wye  Wynne  Yates  Young         

Happy hunting!

Doreen Laycock and Lisa Blosfelds