The oldest gravestones are rare examples from the sixteenth century. The first is under the great east window:
Further west is an altar tomb sunk deeply in the soil:
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:
And above, in Latin:
Another Lee grave nearby indulges in puns typical of the period:
A little further west, about 18 feet from the tower:
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:
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.