Thursday, 7 May 2015

Churchyard burials at Saints Peter and Paul Bromley

My recent transcription of the burial registers and funeral accounts for Dunn's funeral trade from Market Square and the discovery of an Archive copy of Thomas Wilson's "Accurate description of Bromley" published in 1797 (see ) lead me to research what burials took place before Bromley Burial Board opened Bromley Cemetery on London Road.
The burial registers show a dramatic reduction in parish church burials and it is usually only those long established family vaults and burial plots that are used for interments at the parish church.
The church had in the crypt a catacomb (referred to in funeral accounts) as well as vaults for families. I have read local history accounts that only the Bishops of Rochester were buried in this way;but evidence that many prominent local families and tradesmen of the town had vaults and the Dunn funeral accounts contain evidence of vaults dug into the floor of the church requiring removal of benches and clearing up after excavation.
Wilson's engraving of the Church

enabled me to research the location of the various sections of burials in the church yard and with apologies for my lack of artistic skill
we can see that the latest burial plots in the graveyard in what I call section 5 were nearest Church Road and the High Street.
This also links the engraving of the church tower with it's position in the ancient parish church. When in 1941 the ancient church was hit by an high explosive bomb the tower although damaged survived structarally and the site of of the 1950's replacement parish church moved so that nowadays the tower is on the opposite side of the church. In the redesigned church very few intact gravestones survived;those that did are included in the ambulatory of the church. The Church has a useful guide in PDF format (Guide to Bromley Parish church ) which illustrates the history of the building and guides visitors.
Many clergy of the Church are included if not in burial by means of memorials.
The Memorial Inscriptions of the pre 1941 church were recorded by Leland Duncan; it is worth noting that the Bromley Archive copy of the transcribed inscriptions have been heavily corrected both by local Surveyor Mister Baxter whose notes both correct inscription detail and omissions which he found in church and churchyard. I hope that the transcript of Dunn funerals in the nienteenth century will help searchers to find details of those buried by the company and to appreciate the trade of local funeral directors in shaping the church yard.