Revealing the Secrets of St John the Baptist, Burley Churchyard

Grave 5 After RTI - St John the Baptist, Burley
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 Burley to survey the condition of, and record the monuments at St John the Baptist 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 John the Baptist 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 John the Baptist Burley 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 Burley 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. A number of monuments in Christ Church Emery Down have recently been conserved and you can find out more about them here: Conservation work at Christ Church Emery Down


As well as hard graft from volunteers we have been using technology to help us reveal the secrets of Burley; 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 are transcribed from the images above

Grave 1

“In Memory of Blanche Mary Shore Clough of Burley Hill in This Parish. Born 18 June 1828, Died 7th May 1904”

Grave 2

“To The Memory of Lydia Tanner, who departed this life February 1 1834, Aged 61 years.
Farewell, farewell but not for ever. In heavenly rest we meet again. Where never more can death disse(….). But we for ever shall remain.
Also of Austin Tanner, Son of Mrs Tanner who died July 7th 1836, Aged 28 years. Also of Hellen Cleale died in Melbourne in Australia, September 15th 1856, Aged 40 years. Also of Moses Tanner, husband of the above died October 20th 18..”

Grave 3

“Erected by the neighbourhood to the memory of William Sims the first parish clerk Of Burley during the ten years who departed this life Aug 22nd 1818.
A noble fellow, judgement good, and generous thoughts had he intelligence and promptitude beyond his poor degree. We build this to the dying dust and for his soul we pray that he may from the lord the just find his mercy at that day”

Grave 4

“Sacred In Memory of Ebenezer Newel Blanchard. Born 28 November 1837, Died 6 December 1924. And of Elizabeth Blanchard, his wife, born 3 February 1842 and died 2 October 1924. Sleep now and take your rest.”

Grave 5

“In loving memory of Charles Thomas Vincent, who died April 6th 1906, aged 61 Years. Had he asked us, well we know, we should cry, oh spare this blow, yes, with streaming tears should pray lord, we love him, let him stay.
Also of Louisa, wife of the above who died, May 18th 1908, aged 65 years. A light is from our household gone, a voice we loved is still’d, a place is vacant in our home, which never can be filled.”

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 Burley

Date: 2016

Your Comment