2016 Summer Tour: Visit by the Bridgwater & District Civic Society, 14 September 2016

Led by Joyce Hurford

The hard work at the cemetery by our small, but loyal band, of volunteers over the past few years has enabled us to begin guided tours (of which several have already been held) in a space around which it is now possible to walk in relative safety!

On Wednesday 14th September on a beautiful sunny day, we had the pleasure of welcoming members from the Bridgwater & District Civic Society. Joined by members from our own Friends' group, we were taken on a fascinating guided tour of some of the graves and memorials in the cemetery. The tour was led by Mrs. Joyce Hurford, an active member of our group, and one of our voluntary researchers.

Her knowledge as she told the stories of the person interred at each place at which we stopped was excellent. Just when we thought we knew a great deal about some of them, Joyce came up with even more interesting information, including a fact about one former high profile citizen which had been a 'scandal' at the time!

It's fair to say that it was not just the memorials to the 'Great and the Good' and who built the heritage of the town, a lot of which endures to this day, that were visited. We learned about former ordinary citizens of the town employed by some of those 'great and good' but who could be remembered for extraordinary stories.

At the end of the tour, Joyce took us to that part of the cemetery known as the 'Paupers' area. It was a poignant moment for us to reflect on the thousands of poor people who lay there and for whom there is no individual marker. Particularly moving were the details of a few names and ages of so many babies and little ones who died in poverty and whom Joyce had managed to identify.

A very informative and rewarding tour was enjoyed by all. And the exciting thing is there's still so much more to be discovered!

Bernice Lashbrook