Here lie a plot­ter, a bal­loon seller’s vic­tim and a nona­ge­nar­ian or­phan

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - PEOPLE AND PLACES -


TMary’s Church­yard has played a part in the his­tory of our na­tion as well as wit­ness­ing fam­ily tragedies, and deaths which were vi­o­lent or oc­curred far from home.

Near Ed­mund Waller’s tomb is that of his niece, Lady Ann Hyde, daugh­ter of his sis­ter Cicelia whose hus­band Nathaniel Tomkins was per­suaded by Waller to take part in the Gun­pow­der Plot and sub­se­quently hanged, a fate Waller avoided.

Nearly 30 years later John Ham­p­den used the church­yard to muster mili­tia bands in de­fence of Protes­tantism.

Although many graves no longer ex­ist a cat­a­logue com­piled in 1968 by Mrs Mar­garet Rut­ter records one of the ear­li­est as that of Robert Jones a vis­it­ing ‘sales­man of the Parish of St Giles in the Field of Lon­don’ who died in 1745.

An­other dated 1810 was of Mrs Char­lotte Mot­t­ley of ‘St Mary le Bonne, Lon­don’ who died on her way to the spa at Chel­tenham.

At the time of the an­nual fair a wreath would be laid on the grave of a Maryann Mal­let who died in 1892.

Two who died vi­o­lent deaths were a farmer, Sa­muel John Paul who poi­soned him­self in 1846 and, sui­cide then be­ing a crime, was buried in the church­yard at night. It is not known if, as was of­ten the case, this was done in the ab­sence of mourn­ers or clergy.

An­other was the vic­tim of a brawl in­volv­ing ‘a tramp­ing air-bal­loon ven­dor’.

Many towns­peo­ple lived into their 90s – one of whom claimed as­sis­tance from a Bea­cons­field char­ity for or­phans on the grounds that he had lost both par­ents.

There were many deaths in in­fancy or child­hood.

The Chars­ley fam­ily, who for nearly 200 years were the town’s lawyers, lost a baby boy in in­fancy, and twin sis­ters aged six within a week of one an­other.

Be­fore the Fitzwilliams Cen­tre opened in 1995, public meet­ings were held in what is now the Ma­sonic Cen­tre and smaller gath­er­ings in Capel House which was shared with the Rec­tory sta­bles.

When, in 1899, the Bishop of Ox­ford, ded­i­cated an ex­ten­sion to the church­yard he took the op­por­tu­nity to re­flect public opin­ion by at­tack­ing cre­ma­tion as un­nat­u­ral and con­trary to Chris­tian teach­ing.

Although it had been made legal 14 years pre­vi­ously, na­tion­wide fewer than 4,500, that is to say about two and a half times the pop­u­la­tion of Bea­cons­field at that time, were cre­mated.

Ed­mund Waller’s Tomb at St Mary’s Church­yard, Bea­cons­field and inset, a por­trait of Ed­mund Waller painted by John Ri­ley

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