St Mary's Churchyard
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Guarlford churchyard, like many, is particularly attractive in the first part of the year with carpets of snowdrops being followed by wild daffodils, primroses and cowslips. Parts of the churchyard are later left un-mown to provide cover for wildlife.
The figure of the maiden shown opposite marks the burial of nurses Emmie Tudor Edwardes and her sister Frances of St Davids, on the Wells Road.
The bench near the main door of the church is well used, and here you can sit quietly and look at the hills.
The churchyard, although nearly full, is still open for burials and the interment of cremation ashes. Records of burials are kept in the church and searches can be requested from the Rector or churchwardens, for which the church can make a charge.
A survey of the churchyard by volunteers was made about 1990, recording monumental inscriptions, where legible, in reporter's notebooks. A map showing the position of the burials was also made.
Transcription by the Guarlford History Group of the (1990) survey of the churchyard was completed in March 2014.
The church opened in 1844 and the first person to be interred in the churchyard was William Burrows in 1845. Many of the older headstones have weathered and become difficult to read, some have been laid flat, while other graves now have no marker. In addition it has always been possible for burial plots to be reused.
The photo below shows the south side of the churchyard looking towards the east where William Burrows is buried in the shade of the trees.
John Noake, 'the Rambler', reported in 1845 that 'this grave is a simple stone with a quatrefoil head, placed by Captain John Henry Allen of Rhydd House , to the memory of an old faithful servant, who lived with him thirty-five years as his coachman'.
As the churchyard opened in 1844 you are unlikely to find the grave of any person born before 1760.
Near the gate into Rectory Lane, you will find the graves of Mary Garlike and her servant, Eliza Dooley (see photo below).
The grave of Mary Garlike is enclosed by sharp iron railings. The inscription underneath the ivy reads,
Here rests Mary Garlike child of William and Lydia Garlike whose bodies are laid in a vault in the Priory Church of Great Malvern. She departed March 20th 1867 aged 88 years.
The inscription on the small headstone next to Mary Garlike's grave (above) reads,
To the memory of Eliza Dooley, only child of the late George Dooley of Lower Withington Cheshire, who died at Malvern March 6th 1869 aged 53 years.
Brass plaques at the back of the church also record the deaths of these women.
Commonwealth War Graves
There are two Commonwealth War Graves in the churchyard. Thomas William Panting, a soldier of the First World War, was educated at Guarlford School and was a Gunner in the Royal Field Artillery. He served in France and Egypt, but, at the age of twenty-one, after a painful illness, he died in the Military Hospital at Woolwich on the 10th May 1917.
His body was conveyed by train to Malvern, where, by kindness of the Wireless Depot of the Royal Engineers at Worcester, a military funeral was arranged.
The coffin draped with the Union Jack was brought from the station to Guarlford Church on a gun carriage with a firing party in attendance.
After the service, at the graveside, three volleys were fired and the Last Post sounded. Thomas Panting's Commonwealth War Grave can be found on the north side of Guarlford churchyard near the road.
Thomas's younger brother, Philip Charles Panting, also died in the Great War. He too was educated at Guarlford School before going to work in Dudley. Philip was then conscripted as a Private into the Duke of Edinburgh's Wiltshire Regiment. After only nine months service and one month in France, he was killed in action on the 1st June 1918, at the age of twenty. He is remembered on the British Memorial at Soissons in France. The Memorial stands in the main square of Soissons and commemorates nearly four thousand war dead from 1914 - 1918 who have no known graves.
The Malvern News at that time commented on the wave of sympathy for the brothers' widowed mother, and also for their grandmother who had lost husband, son and two grandsons within eighteen months, and yet had managed to knit over one hundred pairs of socks for our soldiers.
Private Dennis Alfred Jackson, a soldier of the Second World War, of the Worcestershire Regiment, died from his wounds in August 1944, at the age of twenty, in No. 4 Canadian General Hospital, Farnborough. His coffin was conveyed to Malvern and laid to rest in Guarlford churchyard. The funeral service was conducted by the Revd Newson and the Revd Townsend, Vicar at the Wyche, where the family was living at the time. The Jackson family used to live in Clevelode Lane next to The Homestead, not far from the church.
Dennis Jackson's Commonwealth War Grave can be seen in the churchyard near that of Thomas Panting.
A plaque near the base of the memorial records his brother John William Henry Jackson, died 22nd February 2008 aged 86 years.
Another casualty of WWII was Sergeant John Gordon Woolley, RAF Volunteer Reserve, the son of the headmaster of Guarlford National School. He was reported missing in June 1941, when his aircraft went down in the North Sea. He is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey for airmen lost in the Second World War with no known grave. The Guarlford war memorial stands by the north gate of the churchyard. The names of the fallen are inscribed on a board inside the church.
The photo below, taken in July, shows the north side of the churchyard looking west towards the Malvern Hills.
Interment of ashes
There are memorials close to the north and south walls of the church where the ashes of loved ones have been interred. Elsewhere ashes have been interred in burial plots with other family members. Along the north wall you will find a memorial to author Leslie Halward.
Rectors and their family
Opposite the church door you will find the resting place of the Revd Frederick Newson and his wife Frances.
The bench outside the church is dedicated to the memory of the Newsons. If you are passing by it is a tranquil place to rest a moment and take in the view of the Malvern Hills. Opposite the bench on the far side of the path you will see another cluster of monuments.
These are in memory of a previous Rector, John Bateman Wathen, died 1906, his wife Emma Maria Louisa Wathen nee Andrew, died 1900, her brother Charles Andrew, died 1899, and Charles' second wife Jane Margaret Andrew nee Blayney, died 1901.
Adjoining is the resting place of Revd Wathen's mother-in-law Grace Andrew nee Midwood, died 1875, the mother of Charles and Emma.
In the churchyard near the north gate there once stood a graceful stone statue of the Madonna and child. This was a gift to Guarlford from the Revd Osbourne Jay, late Vicar of Shoreditch, when he retired to Malvern. He taught boxing at his boy’s club in London’s East End and was known as ‘The Boxing Parson’. The statue used to stand in his vicarage garden there.
Sadly, it was stolen one night in 1991 and shortly afterwards even the church gates were stolen!
Replica gates (see photo below) were made jointly by Stephen Cooper and his woodwork tutor. Stephen was treasurer of Guarlford Parochial Church Council for several years.
Just before the north gate on the east side of the path there is an old memorial often covered in ivy in the shade of an apple tree (see photo below).
The memorial is to three sisters. The inscription on the right hand monument reads:-
In memory of Elizabeth 2nd daughter of Major General W H Beckwith.
The inscription is partly covered by soil but the church burial register records she died in 1869 aged 59.
The inscription on the centre and largest stone reads,
In memory of Jessie Henrietta Beckwith 3rd daughter of Major General Beckwith
Died at Malvern May 21st 1882
The burial register records she was 70. The inscription underneath (from Romans c5 v11) is wearing away, but can just be made out. It reads,
Justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The inscription on the left hand monument reads,
My trust is in thy mercy and my heart is joyful in thy salvation (probably this is taken from Psalm 13).
The inscription on the reverse side is currently hidden behind a holly bush, but the burial register lists Sophia Beckwith who died in 1883 aged 60.
Click to read more about the Beckwith family
Near the NE corner of the church are buried curate Revd William Joseph Fancourt, Rector of St Mary, died 1852, his wife Agnes Bell died 1873 and their youngest daughter Jane, died 1925.
Agnes's brother John Bell, died 1890, is also buried in the churchyard as is his second wife Emily Jane Townshend Russell, died 1915, her sister Isabella died 1897 and parents John and Priscilla Russell of Peckham Grove (now Littlewood House in Poolbrook Road) a black and white cottage which was built in the late seventeenth century.
More about on-line records
As of 2013, unlike many other areas of the country, few Malvern burial records, headstones and inscriptions were searchable on-line except of course for the famous such as Elgar. Besides the Guarlford project, there is some activity elsewhere in Malvern:-
The Malvern Civic Society has a project to record burials in the old part of Great Malvern Cemetery (dating from 1841), and there has been talk of transcribing the burial register.
The Malvern Family History Society has been reviewing records of monumental inscriptions made by members. Click here to see records available and how to purchase.
In late 2013, photos of memorials in nearby churchyards, such as Great Malvern Priory, and St Peter's Powick, began appearing on the website Gravestone Photographic Resource which aims to build a database of memorials, provided by volunteers.
In 2014, The genealogist website began a project to build an International Headstone Image Database, based upon images supplied by volunteers. You can find out more and register as a volunteer by going to their website,
(note you will first be asked to set up a username and password before entering this website).
Based on extracts from The Guarlford Story and The Guarlford Scene with photos and further research by Angus and Rosemary McCulloch
Last updated 26th March 2014