Graveyard and Memorial Stones

Once the original St Chad's Chapel was established, the ground surrounding it was used as the Chapel graveyard. Rather poignantly in view of later events, the first grave was that of Sophia Symonds first daughter of Mr Stephen Symonds, who was buried on the 5 August 1843 aged 28 years. When the old Chapel was demolished, more space became available for burials - so solving a pressing problem. The last recorded burial is that of Basil Millett on 19 April 1972, although the ashes of several peoples were scattered after this date.

A report in 1972 states The present graveyard is in a derelict state in many areas ...many of the kerbs have subsided. Many of the headstones are leaning at such an angle that they must now be considered dangerous'. As a result of this report, and taking advantage of some environmental grants, plans were made for the graveyard to be levelled. Descendants of those buried were contacted about the proposals, and where objections were made, the stones remain in position, together with others which were either too large or of a design incompatible with the general plans. After carefully recording the position and citations of the gravestones, most of the headstones were laid down over the surface of the graves, and the whole area covered with turf. The distinct ridge running across the grass is not an ancient grave, but a planned obstruction designed to deter cyclists and other wheeled traffic!

The foundation walls and the general outline form of the old Chapel still exist below the surface of the landscaped graveyard, as well as the graves. The edging between the path and the graveyard is made from the coping stones of the old Chapel.

There are 230 recorded graves, with the headstone inscriptions commemorating some 400 people, some of whom are buried elsewhere. The Register of Burials compiled as a legal requirement contains 824 entries. A number (particularly after 1950) are cremations, for which a separate part of the graveyard was designated. A study of the graveyard records give glimpses into the lives of Handforth people. The notion that people did not live very long is disproved, with many living well on into their 70's and 80's. However in contrast to this there are many instances of children dying in infancy, sometimes as many as four or five in a the same family.


Graveyard 1904

The Church and Graveyard, before 1904

Three graves are of soldiers who died whilst guarding German prisoners in Handforth during the First World War and are under the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

There are several interesting inscriptions. One commemorating a 3 month old child with simple theological economy reads:

'She died for Adam sinned, She lives for Jesus died'.

Another in memory of a husband, wife, and daughter has similar assurance but is expressed with more poetic imagery :

'The race appointed I have run, the battle o'er the victory won, and now I reign in heaven on high with Christ my Saviour in the sky'.


The Graveyard Plan - Click on the thumbnail picture of the plan, below, to open the A2 version in PDF format.  Then use zoom in your PDF Reader to navigate the plan drawing.

Graveyard Plan

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