1962 – Old headstones at All Saints moved

This is an article we discovered in a Whitstable Times issue from 1962. It is interesting for historical as well as family history research reasons. When it is possible we will obtain some up to date pictures to accompany this article.


Oldest Gravestones Make Way For Church Extension

The building of an extension to All Saints’ Church, Whitstable, has meant the removal of many of the old gravestones in the churchyard.

Some of the edifices which have been removed from the south side of the church date back to the seventeenth century and it is beacuase of their historical interest that records are to be kept indicating the positions of the tombstones.

The south aspect of the churchyard, where the new building is being erected, was once saved for the privileged townspeople and families. The reason? The south side was considered to be the warmest.

The earliest illustration of this aspect of Whitstable parish church is a coloured was drawing which is now preserved in the British Museum and shows the very ancient “south doorway.” This is dated 1850.

Later, in 1868, the vestry was built and this was completed on August 20th of that year.

1492 BEQUEST

As long ago as 1492 a certain Richard Coting left some money for the reparation of the south porch, which was then of a considerable age.

In addition to the money – the princely sum of 6/8 – Richard Coting left a beautiful silver chalice to the church “for the service of God.” Incidentally, he also willed the piece of land at Bogshole known as “Wilkin Watts” to the Whitstable Charities who still own it.

Lately removed from the churchyard were a row of ancient headstones to the memory of the Reynolds family. These were the oldest in the whole burial ground.

It was John Reynolds, who married a daughter of Henry Raynor, of Chestfield, whose ancestors had a hand in the knighting of the Black Prince in 1347.

John Reynolds took an active interest in the eighteenth century shipping trade and was a hoyman. He also founded the Highgate farm.

OLDEST HEADSTONE

The oldest headstone in the churchyard bore the Inscription “Here lieth the body of Richard Reynolds who departed this life at Gravesend, June 2st, 1688, In the 39th year of his age.” Richard died of the plague, and was the son of Thomas Reynolds, for many years from 1656 churchwarden of All Saints’.

On this collection of stones could be seen the skulls and crossbones, and hour-glasses do typical of the time.

Another interesting set of graves were those of the ancestors of Whitstable historian Councillor Wallace Harvey.

The stones included those of Michael Kemp, who died on July 17th, 1788, and his wife Mary Castle (14th May 1782). Their daughter, Elizabeth Kemp, married James Camburn, whilst Ozias Kemp, also a member of the family, made it a “double relationship” when Councillor Harvey’s grandfather, the original Wallace Camburn (the son of James Camburn) married a descendant of Ozias.

MEMORIAL TO MINISTER

Another interesting memorial was to the memory of a Congregational minister, the Rev. David Harrison, who became a minister in Whitstable in July 1836.

On October 5th, 1854, the Congregational church was burnt down and in an endeavour to build up a fund to erect a new church, Mr. Harrison “worked himself to death” and died in April 1855.

He had, however, worked in the town for some 19 years and was well loved by every one in Whitstable. He was renowned for his attendance to the Christian welfare of the poorer classes.

It was recorded that on his death “nearly two-thirds of the shutters in the town were closed and the colours suspended from the vessels in the harbour and in the bay.”

It is notable that although he was a non-conformist it was not possible for a Congregational minister to officiate at his burial and the curate of All Saints’ performed the ceremony.

The Rev. David Harrison also lent his name to advertising “Parrs Life Pills” in the London Illustrated News.

Footnote: It is understood that the stones are to be re-erected around the new extension.