Rediscovering Lost Information from Copythorne’s St Mary’s Graveyard

St Marys Copythorne with roll of honour. 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 Copythorne Parish History Society to survey the condition of, and record the monuments at St Mary’s church. 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.

St Marys 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: St Marys Copythorne 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 Copythorne 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.


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 Copythorne; 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.


These inscriptions are transcribed from the above images

Grave 1

“Sacred to the memory of George Lovell who departed this life October 4th 1852, aged 28 years. A dutiful son lies sleeping here, from all his earthly care, lord take him to thy arms to rest. Thy blessings for to share.”

Grave 2

“In loving memory of Ellen, the beloved wife of Henry Sillence, Who died August 5th 1917, aged 60 years. Rest in the lord”.

Grave 3

“In loving memory of George, husband of Mary Emery, who died March 14th 1909, Aged 70. Thy will be done. Also of Mary, wife of the above, who died April 1st 1925, aged 85 years. He give’th his beloved sleep.”

Grave 4

“In loving memory of Emma Neza Mouland, died April 3rd 1934, Aged 80 years”

Grave 5

“Sacred to the memory of Edward Gamble who died August 1st 1844, aged 50 years.
Also Mary, Wife of Anthony Peckham, and daughter of Edward and Sarah Gamble, died April 7th 1855, Aged 26 years. A word to the living. “Prepare to meet thy god.”
Also Sarah, wife of the above, who died Jan 6th 1863, aged 64 years. The is faithful that promised”

Grave 6

“Sacred to the memory of Fanny, wife of Thomas Glasspool of Southampton who died April 2nd 1850, aged 66 years. To honor {……..}.
Also of Thomas Glasspool who died November 9th 1866, aged 80 years. {……..} He was for upwards of 50 years a (?) deal (?) in Southampton. His motto through life was “owe no man anything but love of another”.

Grave 7

“Sacred to the memory of Elizabeth Sterling (?) who died (?) 12 1872, aged 37 (?) years. {…….}”.

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 Copythorne

Date: 2016

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