BRANSCOMBE PARISH

Some Gravestones in the Churchyard


The oldest gravestones are rare examples from the sixteenth century. The first is under the great east window:

Ellis Wheaton d. Sep 28 1579

Further west is an altar tomb sunk deeply in the soil:

John Tayler buried the X April 1586

The Lee family were prominent in the village from at least the seventeenth century. Richard Lee was a churchwarden in 1671. His name is inscribed on one of the bells. An altar tomb close to chancel door features this chilling advice to future generations:

Stay passenger awhile and read your doome
I am you must be dead

And above, in Latin:

May this heavy stone ever remain
to preserve the sacred ashes of a holy matron

Another Lee grave nearby indulges in puns typical of the period:

October 1658
The wine that in these earthen vessels lay
The hand of death has lately drawn away
And as a present served it up on high
Whilst heere the vessels with the Lees do lie

A little further west, about 18 feet from the tower:

Joseph Braddick
27 June 1673
suddenly at sheep-shearing

Strong and in labour
Suddenly he reels
Death came behind him
And struck up his heels

Such sudden strokes
Surviving mortals bid ye
Stand on your watch
And to be also ready

On the south side of the path:

John Perryman
who without a known enemy and beloved in the parish
was shot in the dusk as he returned home from work
8 September 1883
The killer was never discovered

I will repay saith the Lord

East of the church at the south side of the path, there is an altar tomb to John Hurley with a tragic story attached.

John was that most hated of local figures in the eighteenth century, an Exciseman. He lost his life in mysterious circumstances on the night of the 9th of August 1755, while trying to put out a fire on the cliff-top. His body was found the next morning at the foot of the cliff. Whether the fall was an accident, none could say, but local smugglers were known to light signal fires on the cliffs when contacting contraband-laden vessels out in the Channel. Undeterred, John's brother William took up the challenge and succeeded as Exciseman, dying a natural death at the age of 74, after 46 years in the saddle as Riding Officer.

Being a coastal village, Branscombe has occasionally been the scene of shipwrecks, and in December 1802 a Danish cargo vessel, the Ornen resulted in the deaths of three Danish sailors whose memorial stone stands in the churchyard. The wooden sailing ship was 150' long and laden with timber, bound for Plymouth from Fredrickstadt, Norway. She had on board twelve hands, besides the captain and a boy. Ten of the hands and the boy were saved. Those buried in St.Winifred's are:

There is a memorial to Branscombe's war dead outside church gates.


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