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Archive for May 29, 2010

Ancestors at Rest – Places I “look after”!

St. Nicholas Church, Lower Winchendon, Buckinghamshire

Original photograph in my private collection, taken by me in 2000, copyright 2010

Because most of my family history research is in Buckinghamshire and particularly one village, Lower Winchendon (I think its ancient name of Nether Winchendon sounds so much nicer), I will be adding posts and photographs here at this blog concerning the churchyard etc., of St. Nicholas in that village.

According to the history of this village, the Church has probably formed a major part of village life for at least 1,000 years.  The Church’s Parish Registers start at 1562 so although not too big a churchyard, there have been quite a number of people buried there!

Having visited this village and churchyard several times over the years (I live too far away to go on a regular basis) Nether Winchendon today is an obvious medieval village with a smallish population.  It is lovely there, and it is as if time has stopped still.  You feel like you have been transported back to the time your ancestors were there!!  These days there is no pub, no shop, or school although the Censuses show the village had these then. The Church seems to be the centre of the community as it has probably always been.

The village’s name of  ‘Winchendon’  is an original Anglo Saxon name, and means something along the lines of  ‘hill at a bend’.  Lower Winchendon and Upper Winchendon were both recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 and were  known as Wincandone.

Because of  the family history research for my partner Paul, I am also interested in the fairly local to us churchyard at Mithian, Cornwall.  Again, the interest mainly stems from the fact that some of Paul’s ancestors are at rest there, but I will also be including photos and details of graves, monuments and history etc., concerning all the others at rest there.

St. Peter’s Church, Mithian, Cornwall

Original photograph copyright Mark Charter - http://www.flickr.com/people/markcharter/

Sadly, the church is now closed.  I believe the roof was in a bad way and so it had become unsafe for anyone inside the church.

This is a much newer church compared to that at Lower Winchendon mentioned above, as the parish was formed in 1847 from the parishes of several places such as Kenwyn, Kea and partly from Perranzabuloe and St Agnes, because of the quickly growing population in the area. The church and churchyard can be found midway between the villages of Mithian and Blackwater. Mithian is considered to be one of the oldest villages in Cornwall.

Although St. Peter’s Church is fairly young  (compared to many) there has been ancient chapels in Mithian from the ancient times.

A year or so ago, after the Church was closed there were plans to convert it to residential use!!  I do not know whether this is still going ahead, but it certainly makes me wonder what will happen to the churchyard and all those resting in it?  I am sure that if someone is going to turn the Church into a house they probably will not want to be surrounded by graves and the continuous comings and goings of those descendants and relatives of more recent people at rest coming to visit, tidy up, place flowers and so on.

I have always found this particular churchyard slightly wild as it has not been immaculately kept, but very pretty at certain times of the year.  Springtime when the whole churchyard is covered in primroses is a delight to see.  And it is always so peaceful there so I am hoping that maybe one day they can find the £800,000 + that they need to put the church right rather than have it turned into a house.