St Lawrence


The rector, John Kirkby, gave the following description of the graveyard in the church terrier of 20 June 1825:

... The churchyard is bounded on the West, North and part of the East by the Town’s Street [now Leake Road] and the surface of the ground is much higher than the said street; on the remaining part of the East [side] by a barn and other outbuildings in the occupation of Mr William Redfern, on the South by a brickwall belonging to the said William Redfern’s garden and kept in repair by him and the remaining part of the South by a new built wall of brick made by the rector and kept in repair by him, which wall was formerly a mud one. The fences next the said Town Street being a stone wall from the street as high as the surface of the Church Yard and posts and rails above the wall kept in repair by the churchwardens. ...

The size was given as 2 roods and 19 perch.

The original church graveyard extends around the church, the larger section is on the north and east side. The graveyard has been used many times over the centuries and an excavation trench made at the end of the last century when drainage pipes were being laid revealed well preserved skeletons one above the other. A low stone wall surrounds most of the graveyard which is now about one metre above the adjacent roads. On the south side a tall brick wall ‘made by the rector’ John Kirkby, separates the former vicarage from the graveyard.

The increase in village population placed greater demands on the graveyard. When it became full another plot was purchased, with the consent of Earl Howe, at a cost of £11 9s 6d. It was brought into use in 1869 and consecrated during November 1870. This cemetery lies between Church Street and Orchard Street on the opposite side of Leake Road to the church and is ¾ of an acre in extent although later trade directories give the area as 3 roods and 30 perch, almost an acre in size. Further details of the first extension of the churchyard were obtained from the records of the Church Commissioners. Recorded information about the Gotham Burial Ground includes:

Application form: land, 3 roods
Vendor/Grantor: Two of the Trust Estates & Earl Howe
Date of Conveyance: 5 Oct 1870
Sealed: 3 Nov 1870
Costs: £11 : 9 : 6d

A further document dated 18 Oct 1870 gives the names of grantors as William Perry Herrick Esq of Beaumanor Park nr Loughborough, Leics. and George Lewis Parkin Esq of Lincolns Inn Middx. Both devisees of Trust Estates. Also the Rt Hon George Augustus Frederick Lewis Earl Howe (Tenant for life). Consecration fixed for 1 November 1870.

In 1886 Frederick Armine Wodehouse, who became rector four years earlier, wrote a letter dated 22 June to the Church Commissioners:

... Some 10 (?) years ago I believe Lord Howe made over a piece of land to the Commissioners for the purpose of forming a burial ground for this village. You would do me a kindness if you would let me know if this was so, & if so, repairs being wanted, upon whom would come the first responsibility ... a tacit consent has always [been that] all 4/6d [has] gone to the sexton [for burials!]. I should be much obliged for early information on the subject. ...

The reply stated that the rector was responsible for the repairs.

The archway at the entrance to the new burial ground subsequently became unsafe and was taken down. A nearby plaque, inscribed with a verse from John 12.24, was also removed and later placed on the wall inside the church. In 1939 an extension of the Gotham cemetery was opened and was consecrated on the second day of May. This extension of 0.67 acres of land was purchased from John Talbot of Church Farm. The new cemetery was maintained by the St Lawrence church until 1983 when the village parish council took over the maintenance on a voluntary basis at an annual cost of £1600. In January 2002 Gotham parish council began discussions with the parochial church council on the possibility of re-using the older section of the cemetery (1870-1900) as the extended section is now almost full. All headstones due to be relocated have been photographed in situ and the inscriptions copied. An application has been made to Southwell diocese for a faculty to re-use this part of the cemetery.