27th Sep, 2020

Droitwich historian hails 'amazing discovery' as 175-year-old gravestone is found in town churchyard

Tristan Harris 4th Dec, 2019 Updated: 4th Dec, 2019

A GRAVESTONE which dates back 175 years has been discovered in a Droitwich churchyard.

The stone, uncovered by local gravedigger Stephen Priddey, is the oldest one to be found in the town’s St Mary’s Churchyard since the Victorians discovered three medieval grave markers when laying out the ‘new’ churchyard in the 1860s.

Two of those markers have since been lost but the remaining one – the largest of the three – is now on permanent display in the town’s St Andrew’s Church.

After seeing this latest find had ‘S.H 1844’ inscribed on it, the help of Droitwich historian Paul Jones was enlisted.

Paul said: “It’s a fantastic discovery and further evidence the area was used for burials prior to the current churchyard.”

By checking the churchyard’s burial records Paul has ascertained it belonged to Sarah Harris who passed away at the age of just five months.

She was buried on June 26, 1844, and further records show she was the daughter of William and Sarah Harris, also of Droitwich, with her baptism taking place on January 1, 1844.

William Harris was described on the baptism record as working as a ‘labourer’ and later listings suggest he may have become a blacksmith by 1846.

Paul has now applied for the birth and death certificates for confirmation and he said he felt there was much more to be discovered in the area.

“I think there will be more and some other nice stones where the woodland has been cleared in between the churchyard and where The Castle pub is now.

“I would love to bring archaeologists from Worcester in but a project like that will be down to funding.”

Other records show there was a stone church on the site which was lost in the 1600s after falling into a state of disrepair and there was also a small mortuary chapel.

Other finds include a medieval tile kiln and three of the tiles made are on display at the Droitwich Spa Heritage and Information Centre.

“This is definitely one of the most fascinating sites in Droitwich and I’m sure there is much more to be found.”

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