Revealing the secrets of All Saints Minstead Churchyard

All Saints Minstead. Credit: NFNPA
Author: Jack Brown

As part of the Our Past, Our Future, Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) Landscape Partnership Scheme the New Forest National Park Archaeology Team have been working with Minstead to survey the condition of, and record the monuments at All Saints in Minstead. The survey will help accurately map and identify monuments that can be conserved using HLF funds and will ultimately create a database for ongoing management of the graveyard. The other ambition is to make the list of burials and monuments within the graveyard available to the public on this site to help people who are researching their family trees.

All Saints Volunteer Survey

To start the survey Bournemouth Archaeology were commissioned to undertake a rapid GPS survey of the graveyard monuments to produce a digital map. The map can be seen as an image above or downloaded here: All Saints Minstead Map. This data is also available on the New Forest Knowledge map; if you visit the homepage and then explore the map by expanding the layers and turning on Churchyard Memorials under the archaeology layer.

The local community were then encouraged to start adding further data and information to this base survey using guidance based on Historic England Advice for Caring for Heritage Cemeteries and Burial Grounds. This was used to create some bespoke guidance for the New Forest.

Though a paper form can be filled in on site the data from this needs to be inputted into the main New Forest Churchyard database. This is managed through ArcGIS and the digital form can be accessed here: New Forest Survey Form

As this data is added by volunteers the main database will be updated so you will be able to explore it on New Forest Knowledge.

Can you Help?

Can you help Minstead complete their graveyard survey. All the background information you need is above and then you can visit the graveyard and spend some time exploring the site and maybe add some information using the forms.

Thomas White (MAS563)

One of the graves near the main entrance to the church has a small edit that might catch the eye. Photos can be found above. It is the grave to a Thomas White who died in 1842 with a chunk missing. The story is that the after his death some information about his life came to light showing he hadn’t been the most faithful of husbands, which resulted in a bit of post memorial monument censorship.

The Inscription now reads:

Sacred To the Memory of THOMAS WHITE

Who died 31st Oct 1842

Aged 81 years

A faithful friend, A Father dear/A [……..] Husband lies buried here

In love he lived in love he died/His life was …bed but God denied


As well as the graveyard survey adding names and dates to the database allowing residents and visitors to research their family history the condition monitoring element is allowing monuments suitable for conservation using National Lottery Heritage Funding.


As well as hard graft from volunteers we have been using technology to help us reveal the secrets of Minstead; Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI). The process involves taking numerous photos of one monument with a raking light and then letting the computer do the hard work to produce some amazing results. If you are interested in learning more about RTI photography you can do: here. The results produced highlighted how valuable RTI is; as the inscriptions that were once illegible have now been legible, providing a greater resource within the overall survey and documentation process.


The following inscriptions have been transcribed through RTI. From the photo’s shown, the transformation is highlighted from before and after the RTI is applied. Despite how useful RTI is, deterioration of gravestones made some gravestones difficult to transcribe and hence, total recovery of the inscriptions may not have been possible.

Grave 1:

“Sacred to the memory of John Gill late of Bramble Hill Lodge who departed this life November 12th 1869, aged 75 years. Also of Hannah, the beloved wife of the above who departed this life May 26th 1866, aged 62 years. The lord gave and the lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Grave 2:

“The memory of James Humby who departed this life October 6th 1810, aged 57 years. A faithful friend, brother dear and a dutiful son lies sleeping here. In peace (….).Also to the memory of John Morris, who departed this life February 22nd 1812 aged 61 years. Also of Elizabeth, wife of the above who departed this life May 16th 1839, aged 56 years. {…} . “

Grave 3:

“In Memory of Thomas Lovell who departed this life Oct. 27th in the year of the lord 1818, aged 68 years. My life is past, my glass is full, so I will with good.
Also Barbara, wife of Thomas Lovell who died Dec’. 27th 1821, aged 66 years. Mourn not for me my children dear. Nor weep for me in vain, think on the joys we shall (?) when we shall meet again.”

Grave 4:

“Sacred to the memory of Sarah, wife of David Tuck who died 13th November 1828, aged 66 years. Also of the above David Tuck {…..} who departed this life 4th July 1812, aged 81 years”

Grave 5:

“In loving memory of Ann, the beloved wife of Joseph Compton who died November 23rd 1890, aged 72 years. Also of the above named Joseph Compton who died June 22nd 1902, aged 85 years. Rest In Peace.”

Other Churchyards

As well as Burley we have been working at the following graveyards and using RTI to reveal their secrets.

New Forest Graveyard Survey

RTI Example from Minstead


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