London, UK, images; gardens and cemeteries
Local history: the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin Church in Lewisham, South East London (picture taken in late March)
“St Mary’s Churchyard
¤ The present church stands on the site of previous parish churches dating back to the 20th century when the whole of Lewisham was owned and administered by the Abbey of St Peter’s, Ghent in Flanders.
As the population of Lewisham increased the churchyard was extended. In 1791 part of the Church Meadow next to the Ravensbourne was added, part of the garden of the adjacent Lewisham House was enclosed in 1817 and, finally in 1850, another part of the Church Meadow was added.
The churchyard was full and closed for burials in 1856. Since 1890 the churchyard has been managed as a public open space by the local authority (the Lewisham Board of Works). After its closure burials took place in the new cemetery in Ladywell Road.
The illustration (right) explains how the churchyard was gradually extended as land was acquired by the church since medieval times. There are many fine tombs in the churchyard some dating from the early 1700s. Many have finely sculpted cherubs, clouds, skulls and bones. Sadly many of these fine details have been eroded by acid rain.
Further information can be found in Ken White’s ‘Survey of The Churchyard of St Mary the Virgin’, Lewisham 1992 and, ‘St Mary’s Church Lewisham’, by Julian Watson 2004.
¤ Grant Them Eternal Rest, O Lord And Let Light Perpetual Shine Upon Them
‘Many resort here to drink the waters, the properties of which resemble those of Cheltenham’ Henry Warren, 1827…”
¤ “Memorial types from a Survey by Ken White 1992
– Decorative monuments
There are numerous headstones with symbolic carvings. This example for J. Pragnell  has clouds with a cherub, skull and an hour glass. Dates from 1763.
– Ledger Stone
[Illustration of an inscription, ‘Here lyeth the Body of Richard Evans of […] Parish of Lewisham who departed this life ye 18 of May Anno Dom. 1707 aged 67 years’] Early C18th. The oldest surviving example left in the churchyard is the memorial to Richard Evans, dated 1707 .
– Altar type
A cheaper version of the chest tomb with brick sides and an inscribed ledger stone on the top. Most of the inscriptions have been eroded.
– Head stone, body stone and foot stone
Style from the C18th and C19th. Some of the body forms are in brick and others in stone. Earliest of the type is 1702.
– Obelisk type
Including the impressive monument  to Ebenezer Blackwell (1731-1782) a banker who lived at ‘The Limes’ in Lewisham High Street…”
– “Chest tomb
Late C18th early C19th. Constructed of stone with decorative side pieces and an inscription on top often with several names and information about the deceased.”
[Some of the deceased buried in St Mary the Virgin churchyard:]
¤ “The How Family chest tomb 
The How family were high quality cutlers in the C18th, and owned a mill in the hamlet of Southend in the south of the parish if Lewisham (Homebase Pool). Ephraim How, who was master of the Cutlers’ Company, moved from Chingford in 1709 and began production at the mill in Lewisham. The finished goods were sold at his shop in Holborn…”
¤ “Thomas Dermody (1775-1802) 
A low altar tomb in memory of the poet who was much admired during his lifetime. He was born at Ennis in County Clare in Ireland on 15 January 1775 and died in Lewisham in 1802. A biography containing all of his poems was published in 1807.
¤ Captain Charles Weller (1782-1866) 
The remarkable cast iron rope surrounding a stone cross memorial symbolises a naval career: he was Captain of the Albion for the East India Company navy and is buried here with his wife Maria who died in 1870 aged 83.”
(from a public information point at St Mary the Virgin churchyard)