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A History of Randwick
By E. P. Fennemore
1893

Chapter 4

THE CHURCHYARD.

The Churchman rises from his bed,
And after having breakfasted,
Shaved, washed himself, and cleaned his shoes,
Puts on his shirt and Sunday clothes,
Then straight towards the church he walks,
To join the churchyard common talks.
And then from every lane and street,
As custom is, the neighbours meet,
To hear and talk of what has passed
And turned up since Sunday last;
If wheat is on the rise or fall
Is talked of round the churchyard wall;
How barley went last market day,
The price of beans, peas, oats, or hay-
How things went on at such a fair,
You'll hear, and learn too, who was there.

"THE COUNTRY CHURCHYARD."

The Churchyard surrounds the Church on three sides -North, East and West, and is enclosed by a boundary wall, with two entrances, one from The Street," and another by a " "stonen" style from the Wellays. This wall is ornamented on the "W." by a row of seven lime trees, which were planted seventy-four years ago, by the late rector (Rev. J. Elliott) on the birth of his eldest daughter. The North boundary wall has twelve lime trees, which were planted 19th December, 1890, on the aged rector's ninety-ninth birthday, by his family and friends, viz. Mrs. Wells, Mrs. Tilton, Miss Elliott (daughters); Mr. John Libby, 2 (one for himself and one for Mrs. Libby); Rev. E. W. Edwards, curate; Mrs. Edwards, Mrs. Godsell, Miss Godsell, Mr. and Mrs. Mortimer, and Mr. Solomon Hindor (the last named being an aged parishioner from Oxlynch).

The churchyard, from so many centuries of use, is computed to contain, on average calculation, considerably more than 12,000 former inhabitants of the village, and in consequence of this has risen in height (in some places) six feet. In 1874 the Lady of the Manor gave a piece of ground from the Wellays for the purpose of enlarging it.

There are some fine altar or coffer tombs (so called from their resemblance to the oak coffers or chests, then commonly in use) in the churchyard,- though from their age the inscriptions on many of them are scarcely legible, if they have not wholly disappeared. There are also several vaults belonging to local families, notably the Hoggs (the Manor family), the Elliotts, and the Copners. The late Lady of the Manor, Mrs. Barrow, with her husband, is buried in a grave with an imposing monument, near the vault of her ancestors, and close to the churchyard wall.

I think the oldest legible inscription is the following :- (1)" Heare slepeth the body of Radulph Meisy, preacher, a gentelman by- birth, a painful labourer in the ministry 34 yrs. and rested the 24th of December, Anno 1628."

On the reverse side is :-(2)" Heare sleipeth the body of Margret, the wife of Radulph Meisy, preacher, aged 68. Her faith had long war with sin and Satan, and had a cyfol (joyfull) victory by Christ the xix of April, Anno 1628."

Just inside the principal entrance on the right, are the tombs of the old sexton, Thomas Bassett, and his wife and daughter.

On the left are those of the Pearce family, who, for several generations, held the office of clerk in the church. They were relatives of Mr. Simeon Pearce, who founded Randwick, in Australia. There is a footpath through the churchyard leading to the schools and the village.

It will be seen that the Churchyard (and Church) contains the remains of three clothiers Nathaniel Iles, Thomas Chandler, and William Arundell; two "blue diers" Samuel Clissold and Richard Hawker; three ministers: Radulph Meisy, David Lloyd, and Rev. John Elliott; six clerks: William Laurence, Edward Chandler, "Master" Harmer, James Pearce, John Pearce, and George Harmer (as although he has no tombstone, it is known that this latter clerk was interred here), and at least one sexton-Thomas Bassett.