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A selection of photographs and postcards of a Surrey country town
 
Nightingale Cemetery, Deanery Road
Nightingale cemetery


By the 1850s burial space in Godalming was becoming sparse. There was no church land close to SS. Peter and Paul church that was suitable for the church's graveyard to expand because of existing buildings and the proximity to the River Wey and its flood plain. The only church land was far too low lying to become a graveyard. In May 1855 the burial board advertised in the local press for a suitable plot of land "not less than two acres in extent"[1]. The site on Nightingale Road and Deanery Road was chosen as the best location and later that year the parish was polled with two propositions for expenditure to provide a new cemetery; the sum of £1,962 5s was agreed[2].

The cemetery opened in 1857[3] and a notice in "The London Gazette" shortly beforehand stated that there were to be no more burials in the parish churchyard after the end of March[5]. The first four burials took place in the cemetery in May 1857[4].

The following year Frederick Mellersh and Thomas Elwin, the auditors of the cemetery accounts, approved the final expenditure, declaring that "the whole outlay appears to us to have been reasonable and judicious". The Vestry of the parish had granted £1962 5s for the purchase of the ground, the erection of the buildings and completion of the cemetery, with money raised from a loan with the Royal Exchange Assurance Office. The two main expenses had been the land, which was purchased for £454, and the cost of the buildings which was £969 6s 0d[6]. What was not accounted for in all the planning was the possibility of an extension of the existing railway line as far as Portsmouth[7]. This extension runs along the opposite side of the Deanery Road boundary today. It is below the cemetery, but it meant that the cemetery became slightly smaller than intended. Godalming's population continued to grow and Eashing cemetery was opened to help meet demand in 1899[3]. Eashing became known as the new cemetery whilst the Nightingale Cemetery has been frequently referred to as the old cemetery.

The above 1907 postcard shows the Cemetery building close to the top of the plot and its upper boundary with Shadyhanger. The design included a pretty bell tower over the porch, where the Sanctus bell from the parish church was hung for many years. It was eventually returned to the church in 1952[9] and the bell tower was removed.

There were two mortuary chapels in the main building; one was for (Episcopal) Church of England use whilst the other, at the south western end of the building, was for Dissenters[11]. Dissenters were, essentially, people of other faiths. The cemetery was also divided into two sections; the eastern end was consecrated ground and the SW end was unconsecrated. A lodge was also built on Nightingale Road for a cemetery attendant to live in. A separate mortuary was later added behind the building[12].

The porch has two entrances, each with a heavy cast-iron gate. The right hand gate and doorway are pictured on the right. This was not original to the building.

An engraving published by Rock & Co. in 1870, held by the Surrey History Centre[10], shows the chapels' building was partially open at the front when it was built. The engraving also shows us that next to each chapel there was what seems to be iron or wooden fencing of possibly 5-6 feet in height across where the gate, window and walls and are today. The porch has also been lined with insulating material in more recent times to keep the building warmer.
 

Although the internal walls of the former Episcopal Chapel are painted white and are not thought to have ever been decorated, the attractive [stencilled?] wall decoration inside the Dissenter's Chapel has been preserved. The metal handrail we can see in the image on the right is part of a staircase constructed for the current users of the building and stands well away from the wall.
 


A carriage driveway between the Deanery Road and Nightingale Road entrances has in recent years been shortened and the eastern section dug up and grassed over, and its line is all but invisible. Pedestrians can also access the site through a "kissing gate" about half way along the fencing. In 1885 John Debenham, the clerk to the burial board, placed an advert inviting tenders to repair the cemetery chapels and also for iron fencing to the frontage of the grounds[13].

Although it was originally known as the Nightingale Road Cemetery, the name was shorted in the 1930s to become the Nightingale Cemetery.

The lodge beside the Nightingale Road entrance housed a number of families over the years. William Heathorn, who died in 1884, was both the attendant at the Cemetery and Sexton for Godalming parish[14]. There were twenty four applications for the vacancy but the number was reduced to three who were interviewed by the burial board. The successful applicant was Joseph Boulter[15]. Charles Steele followed on and just before the outbreak of the Second World War Edwin C. Crockford was the "caretaker".

Both the main building, which is now deconsecrated, and the lodge are Grade 2 listed today.

The former chapels building is now the home of Skillway which provides vocational crafts training to help young people enter the workplace. Skillway is a charitable organisation heavily dependent on volunteers and financial contributions.



September 2021




Below are a few of the cemetery's gravestones or views of burial plots.

In recent years some of the headstones, particularly the stone crosses, were considered to be becoming dangerous so have been laid on the ground.


caesar
JULIUS CAESAR
SURREY & ENGLAND CRICKETER
PROFESSIONAL AT CHARTERHOUSE
BORN MARCH 25, 1830
DIED MARCH 5, 1878
HERE ALSO LIES HIS WIFE
JANE 1829 - 1874
(Grave no: 2217)
For many years Julius Caesar's grave, in the eastern part of the cemetery, was unmarked.
This was finally remedied in 2004.
Also see: A selection of interesting facts about the town




part of the western section
This view shows the top of the western end of the cemetery, part of the nonconformist section. Some of the grass here is not mown regularly to give it a more natural feel. Behind the ivy covered gravestone, bottom centre, was a footway that is now grassed over. A few feet to the right of the conifers and not far from the ivy covered headstone is the unmarked grave of William Smith[16], one of the victims of the Catteshall papermill explosion on 29 Dec 1883. On New Years' Day 1884 William, aged 23, was interred in a slight snowstorm "in the presence of a large concourse of people" in grave 1128. The other four casualties, Alice Bennett, John Brazell, Andrew Frank Foster and Samuel Shepherd, were interred the following day and are elsewhere in the cemetery[17]. None of them seem to have been given a headstone.

Mill Lane, Leather Workers and the Smith Family Connection




Also in this section, on the left of the headstones covered in brambles, is another Smith grave. Sadly, the brambles may look attractive in this picture but they will rapidly cover the memorial. There are, unfortunately, thick ivy stems across the grave to its right (No.1293). This is not intended as a criticism of the groundsmen who do an excellent job, but is something that happens to old memorials.

The epitaph reads:
In
Loving Memory of
HARRIETT,
THE BELOVED WIFE OF
WILLIAM SMITH,
DIED JUNE 22ND 1893,
AGED 64 YEARS.
Also WILLIAM SMITH,
DIED JUNE 14TH 1904,
AGED 76 YEARS.
GOD IS LOVE.
(Grave no: 1292)

It is not known if this couple have any connection to the William Smith named above. In 1891 they were living in Catteshall Gardens with two of their daughters. William was a paper maker.

a Smith headstone




Alderman Thomas Rea had been mayor of Godalming twice and later became a County Councillor. He was buried in the Nonconformist section of the cemetery, close to the chapel, as he was a Congregationalist and had been a treasurer of its church in Godalming for 40 years when he passed away[18]. There are a number of headstones for the Rea family in this part of the cemetery. Two of them are included here.

On the right is the headstone commemorating Mr. Rae and his second wife Katherine Sophia which is now lying on the grass. The inscription reads:

In Loving Memory
of
THOMAS REA,
WHO DIED APRIL 9TH 1910
IN HIS 80TH YEAR.
Also of KATHARINE SOPHIA,
WIFE OF THE ABOVE
WHO DIED JULY 10TH 1926
AGED 73 YEARS.
(Grave no.1329)



The second headstone, below, is dedicated to Mr. Rae's first wife and four of their daughters. Immediately behind it, so facing across the valley, is another family gravestone. The Rae cross can be seen on its left.

 
Rea 1


Rea 2 IN
MEMORY OF
MARGARET,
THE BELOVED WIFE OF
THOMAS REA,
WHO DIED 24TH FEBRUARY 1883,
AGED 51 YEARS.
————
ALSO BARBARA,
WIFE OF H STREET,
AND SECOND DAUGHTER OF THE ABOVE,
WHO DIED NOVER. 20TH 1882
INTERRED IN THIS CEMETERY.
————
ALSO ISABELLA,
WIFE OF W SKINNER,
AND THIRD DAUGHTER OF THE ABOVE
WHO DIED SEPT. 30TH 1908
INTERRED AT BELLS HILL BARNET.
————
THOMAS REA
WHO DIED APRIL 9TH 1910
IN HIS 80TH YEAR.
O MY GOD PREPARE MY SOUL FOR THAT GREAT
DAY. THE HOUR OF MY DEPARTURE HAS COME.
I HEAR THE VOICE THAT CALLS ME HOME.
————
ALSO JANET SKINNER 4TH DAUGHTER OF
THOMAS REA
DIED FEBRUARY 11TH 1929 AGED 65 YEARS.
(Grave no.1378)

Mill Lane, Fire at Rea and Fisher's Oak Bark Tannery, 7 March 1905
View from Holloway Hill, Godalming, 1895




John Debenham, the clerk of the Godalming Improvement Commissioners, was also laid to rest in the nonconformist section as he had been a deacon of the Congregational church[19]. The epitaph on the Debenham headstone reads:


IN
MEMORY OF
JOHN DEBENHAM
DIED APRIL 6TH 1884
AGED 73.
————
ALSO OF
ELIZABETH DEBENHAM
WIFE OF THE ABOVE
DIED NOVEMBER 1ST 1891
AGED 82.
————
ALSO OF
JAMES DEBENHAM
SON OF THE ABOVE
DIED JULY 1ST 1896,
AGED 47.
————
ALSO OF
ISABELLA GERTRUDE,
DAUGHTER OF THE ABOVE
DIED NOVEMBER 14TH 1925
AGED 69
(Grave no.1143)

 

Debenham

The next two graves are also in the same part of the cemetery, not far from the front fence and the "kissing" gate.





white

The White family commemorated on the headstone on the left owned two adjacent grave plots; this is the right hand of the two as you face the stone. The inscription reads:

IN
Loving Memory
of ANN, BELOVED WIFE OF
JAMES WHITE.
DIED DECEMBER 28TH 1898
AGED 79 YEARS
————
'AT REST.'
Also JAMES WHITE.
DIED MARCH 27TH 1903.
————
Also WILLIAM TEMPERLEY,
GRANDSON OF THE ABOVE.
AND OF THORNEYCROFT'S MOUNTED
INFANTRY, KILLED IN ACTION AT
SPION KOP, JANUARY 24TH 1900.
AGED 27 YEARS.
————
Also MARY DAVIS,
DIED JANUARY 11TH 1900
AGED 84 YEARS.
————
Also WALTER WHITE
DIED APRIL 5TH 1911
AGED 46 YEARS.
(Grave no.47)

James and Ann White ran a saddlery at what was then 74 and 75 High Street; James had been in business for at least 53 years by the time he finally gave up his shop. He and his first wife Emma had moved to Godalming in the 1840s (their eldest child was born in the town in 1847). After Ann passed away her husband remained at the shop, only moving to 54 Croft Road a year or two before he died.[20]

Their grandson, Private William Templerley, was killed during the Boer War. His service number was 1759. The British had entrenched in thick mist, failing to reach the crest of the hill. They were also vulnerable from surrounding hills that were higher. In the ensuing bombardment 322 were killed or mortally wounded, one of whom was William[21].




In Loving Memory of
JANE
BELOVED WIFE OF
GEORGE PINCOTT.
DIED MARCH 17TH 1899.
AGED 71 YEARS.
————
"SLEEPING IN JESUS.
Also of
GEORGE PINCOTT.
HUSBAND OF THE ABOVE.
DIED JANUARY 7TH 1915,
AGED 85 YEARS.
————
"REST IN PEACE."
(Grave no.52)

Although they were both born in Godalming George and Jane Pincott did not live in the town for part of their married life as George was employed as a farm bailiff. Jane (née Parrott) passed away at Latimer Road, almost certainly at her son Frederick's home. Afterwards George lived at Lion Green, Shottermill.

Another George Pincott was buried nearby on 14 Dec 1901 in grave 14. He was a family man, aged 43, and had died at the Royal Surrey on 10th Dec. One of his daughters later emigrated to Australia.

  Pincott




The final grave transcipt to be included is that of the Phillips family, whose son was one of the staff on the ill-fated large and luxurious liner that sank on its maiden voyage - The Titanic. The family grave and memorial to Jack Phillips is/are in a secluded corner of the consecrated ground plots, although it is close to the outer railings near the Deanery Road / Nightingale Road junction.


phillips 1

The central white marble stone on this double plot is said to represent an iceberg, which the Titanic collided with when it was not far from Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The epitaph on the central stone reads:
In Memory of
JOHN GEORGE PHILLIPS
AGED 25 YEARS
————
SENIOR WIRELESS OPERATOR
ON R.M.S. TITANIC,
SANK APRIL 15TH 1912.


On each face of the kerb surround is the name of a member of his family, so his father, his mother or his two sisters, all of whom survived "Jack". The name of Ethel Phillips is on the section facing the camera.

GEORGE ALFRED PHILLIPS, BORN JANUARY 20TH 1845, DIED NOVEMBER 13TH 1928

ANN PHILLIPS, BORN FEBRUARY 20TH 1844, DIED JANUARY 16TH 1925.

ETHEL PHILLIPS, BORN DECEMBER 23RD 1874, DIED JULY 18TH 1922.

Also of ELSIE PHILLIPS, DIED 6TH APRIL 1953, AGED 79 YEARS.
(Graves 1259 and 1260)



Phillips 2

The Phillips Memorial Cloister.
Godalming, Surrey : A selection of interesting facts about the town.



There is now a Nightingale Memorial Garden within the cemetery, commemorating the lives of the 281 men who died as a result of the 1914-18 war. It was designed as an all year round garden and provides a very tranquil place for contemplation.


Memorial Garden
September 2021


Within the grounds are also memorials to eight men with Godalming links who died during the First World War:

Private Robert William ANDREWS of Farncombe, d.1917 (grave no.698);
Lance Corporal John Stewart HARVEY d. 1916 (grave no.2604);
Private Charles (Charlie) Francis HOLDEN, d. 1915 (grave no.805);
Private William Thomas MARTIN of Victoria Road, d.1921 (grave no.2436);
Private Arthur William MILLS, born in Farncombe, d. 1916 (grave no.1409);
2nd Corporal Tom Morris STEPHENS of George Street, Farncombe, d. 1916 (grave no.1140a);
Gunner William Victor WAKEFORD of Farncombe, d. 1918 (grave no. 1686);
Corporal Frederick William Atfield WOODNUTT of Great George Street, d. 1918 (grave no.1863)[22].


1. "Godalming Cemetery". Published by F. Frith & Co. Ltd., Reigate, No.57514, in 1907. Not used.
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
2. All other images © Andy Andrews and © Ann Andrews.
Headstone transcripts taken from original large size photographs.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References:

[1] "Sussex Advertiser", 15 May 1855. The burial board targeted landowners both in the parish and the wider neighbourhood in their quest for suitable land as they were "desirous of purchasing a site for a new Burial Ground, not less than two acres in extent". People willing to sell were asked to send "proposals with description of situation, tenure, quantity and quality of soil".

[2] "West Surrey Times", 22 December 1855. The New Cemetery.
Farncombe Church had been opened not long before, but Farncombe was also expanding. Busbridge Church had not yet been built.

[3] Date from 'Parishes: Godalming', -" A History of the County of Surrey": Volume 3, ed. H E Malden (London, 1911). British History Online: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/surrey/

[4] The first person buried at the cemetery in 1857 was a child. Agnes Hayward, aged 1, was buried on 11th May. She was followed by Matthew Welland, 5m, on 13th May, James Paine, aged 73, was interred on 19th May and lastly Arthur Scott, aged 5, on 21st May.

[5] "The London Gazette", 3 Feb 1857. Discontinuation of burials. Announcement that there was to be a postponement of burials being discontinued in the parish churchyard of Godalming, delaying the end date from 1 Jan 1857 to 25 Mar 1857. An earlier issue, of 11 December 1855, showed that Queen Victoria had previously ordered that the discontinuation of burials should be postponed from 1st Feb to 1st Aug 1856.

[6] "Sussex Advertiser" 21 September 1858. Approval notice of the accounts published. The final sum spent differs in a number of published accounts. They came in under budget but in one newspaper, for example, it was given as £1925 4s 9d whilst a board at the cemetery states that it was £1915 18s 11d.

[7] See: Railway Station, Godalming, 1905

[8] Kelly's 1891 Directory.

[9] "West Sussex Gazette", 29 August 1946. Parish Church History - Information from an illustrated guide to the church, written by the Rev. H. E. Hone.
Hone stated that in 1840 the parish church was restored. The "vandalism." to quote the Vicar, "was made worse by the bell being given away. ... It now (i.e. in 1946) hangs above the porch of the Godalming old cemetery chapel". Alan Bott's book states that "it was restored to the tower in 1952". This was an old bell, which had been recast in 1724. ("A Guide to the Parish Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul" (1978) Bott, Alan M.A., F.S.A. © Alan Bott and Parochial Church Council of St. Peter and Paul. Edited and designed by David Coombs.)

[10] The Rock & Co. engraving can be found on the Surrey History Centre's website.

[11] The two separate chapels were marked on the 1871 1:2,500 Ordnance Survey map. The division of the cemetery and the grave plots appeared on a plan drawn up in December 1883.

[12] "Surrey Advertiser", 30 March 1898. Tenders were received by the burial committee and that of Mr. Lee was accepted. The 1 : 2,500 OS County Series map of 1916 shows that a Mortuary had been built behind the chapel.

[13] "ibid.", 25 July 1885. Godalming Burial Board. Advertisement.

[14] "West Surrey Times", 26 April 1884. Death of the Sexton. Mr. Heathern was an active worker in Oddfellows Lodge, had been a ringer at the parish church and was a former member of the old town band.

[15] "ibid.", 24 May 1884. Election of a Lodge Keeper at the Cemetery.

[16] William Smith (16 Jan 1860 - 29 Dec 1883) was born in Woking. There is more of his story on Mill Lane, Leather Workers & the Smith Family Connection.

[17] "Surrey Advertiser", Sat 5 Jan, 1884 and the "West Surrey Times", 5 Jan 1884.
In addition, burial records for all of the victims, held by Godalming Town Council, record the following:
Book | Entry No | Family Name Given Name Age | Description | Date of Death | Place of Death or Residence if different | Date of Burial | Consecrated Ground Y/N | Plot No. Plot No | Ceremony performed by | Notes in Register | Reg Page No.
Y = consecrated ground.

N3/2263 | Smith William 23 | Paper Maker | Guildford County Hospital | 1 Jan 1884 | N 1128 | Rev A J Crighton | 12.
N3/2264 | Bennett Alice 19 | Spinster Mill worker | Catteshall, Godalming | 2 Jan 1884 | Y 2404 | Hon & Rev Canon Brodrick | 12.
N3/2265 | Brazel John 42 | Laborer | Guildford County Hospital | 2 Jan 1884 | N 1028 | Rev R Fowler | 12.
N3/2266 | Foster Andrew Frank 22 | Laborer | Guildford County Hospital | 2 Jan 1884 | Y 2366 | Rev S D Titmas | Plot No altered from 2415 | 12.
N3/2267 | Sheppard Samuel 46 | Paper Maker | Northbourn, Godalming | 2 Jan 1884 | Y 2415 | Rev H Benson | Plot No altered from 2366. Note added "Plan numbered in m(inutes?) 8th 2418" | 12. (Mr. Sheppard was the foreman of the grass pickers).

[18] "West Sussex Gazette", 14 April 1910. Godalming. Death of Alderman Rea.

[19] "West Surrey Times", 12 April 1884. Announcement of the death of Mr. John Debenham. He had begun working at the offices of Messrs. Mellersch and Marshall in 1827 and was a clerk there until that partnership was dissolved in 1844. He then worked for Mr. Marshall and later Mr. May. In 1838 he was appointed to the Godalming Improvement Commissioners, serving until 1888. He had also been borough treasurer from 1868. One of his sons, John Debenham junior, became clerk to the burial board.

[20] James White was not in Godalming in 1841 but was recorded in all census returns 1851-1901. His death was announced in the "London Evening Standard", 31 March 1903.

[21] Information from Find My Past.

[22] Information from the Commonwealth War Graves site and from Godalming Town Council's on line burial records.




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