Brixham Non-Conformist Churchyard Trust
The Past . . . .
Set up on 16 May 1850 when the founding Trustees paid William Gillard Snr and Jnr £50 for a parcel of land in Pomeroy’s Court Field. (Drew St now)
What do we know about the founding Trustees?
Wolston, Lakeman and Hoare we do, but not much about the others except that a cordwainer made footwear.
What about that little chapel?
That was built in 1857 and is still owned and maintained by the Trust. It and the wall are listed buildings…
But what was it used for?
As a final roof for coffins to pass under and for bearers to rest before the burial. Without a hearse it was a long heavy carry up from Lower Brixham. There were restrictions in the conveyance on what could be built and what any building could be used for. It’s used for storage today.
Is that it?
By 1900 there was need to extend the churchyard and on 29 April 1900 a further parcel of land, part of an orchard known as Eveleigh was purchased from John Charles Martin for £134
So how much land do the Trustees manage today?
Added together, it’s just less than three acres. Taking care of the burial ground is the responsibility of the current Trustees working on behalf of all the Non-Conformist Churches in Brixham.
The Trustees arrange for all the necessary maintenance in the churchyard to be carried out: regular grass cutting and trimming of shrubs. A contribution is also made to the Parochial Church Council who manage the rest of the churchyard, for the bills arising from the removal of rubbish.
So how is all that paid for?
Fees, for burials or interment of ashes, are received from Funeral Directors and Monumental Masons for the placement of memorials. Many relatives and friends also make annual personal donations for the maintenance of their loved ones’ grave. Donations have also been made by the Non-Conformist Churches.
The Present . . . .
Being a Trustee is not all swanning around the Churchyard wrestling delinquent memorials to the ground or wandering around now and then making sure everything is ticketty boo.
It calls for some serious thinking, diplomatic skills and the patience of a saint at times.
It goes without saying that most of our ground especially the older areas can be a bit untidy. That’s accepted. To October 7th this year our income from Family’s maintenance donations, Burial and Monumental fees has been £2475 with grass cutting alone absorbing £2115 over the same period. It’s clear that doesn’t leave a lot to do much else. The annual insurance premium is likely to be another £500 on top of that.
Those three things are part of the reason this website is up and running and why Flower Day will be so important in the life of Brixham and the Trust. Behind the scenes there’s feverish activity to set up more effective funding platforms as quickly as possible to make donating easier and more cost effective. Easyfundraising is the first part of all that. Please have a look and if you like it use it shamelessly. Remember, we’re Non Conformists and frugal as they come.
The Future . . . .
In due course we may have to look at relocating memorials to create pleasant grassed lawns on the 1850 / Chapel plot and the 1900 plot just inside Home Close gate. That would also reduce the grass cutting bill a bit. To achieve that there’ll be legislation to comply with let alone advertising what may be possible. That’ll cost. That’s already been done at St Efrides off Lucius St Torquay, now used by the Greek Orthodox community. We’ll be talking to the relevant Trustees there at some stage.
It has been suggested that we could look at re using graves which have been neglected for years. Legislation exists which permits that sort of thing but it’s ruinously expensive and really only affordable if HS2 decided to make a detour this way. The Big Dig or Time Team would no doubt be a draw for a while though.
The Biggie though, is bringing the Chapel back into use. Trustees would like to have it reopened, restored and used for its original purpose: Funerals. That was specified in the Trust Deed of 1850. Times have changed and we’d like to open it to community use as well. There is already a local group, separate from the Trust, beavering away sorting themselves out as well at looking at funding options for restoration and re purposing. The Trust is sourcing surveyors to advise it on the practical and financial implications of that. Torbay Council will no doubt have some input along the way. Additionally, we’ll be calling on advice from The Historic Churches Fund and The Chapel Society to contribute to the project.