A new safety programme by Fenland District Council could see the imminent dismantling of one of the most iconic memorials in Doddington churchyard.
The ‘chapel’ memorial, believed to be of Francis Bavin of Hill House in Wimblington (died: 1869), is marked to be “laid down” unless any “interested parties of the deceased” contact the District Council.
Doddington historian Dave Edwards told the Doings that the memorial holds a particularly special place in the churchyard.
“Generations of Doddington children have been told if they run around this memorial so many times they will see a ghost!” he remarked.
Edwards said he believes Fenland District Council has been marking memorials across Doddington graveyard since around November last year, and extra memorials are being marked every couple of weeks. He added that he is unsure how long it is between a memorial being marked and then it being dismantled.
“Most of the headstones they have laid flat are from the 1920s and 1930s, but in recent weeks they have started on some Victorian memorials,” Edwards said.
Of particular concern is the way the memorial of the Wigginton family, who lived at Manor Farm in the 1850s and 1860s, was demolished recently.
The picture below shows the memorial before it was “laid down”:
And the Wigginton memorial today:
The iconic Bavin memorial was marked within the last fortnight, and it is currently unknown whether it will be “laid down” to the extent that the Wigginton memorial was.
Edwards added: “I would hope that some money could be found to make the Bavin memorial safe without dismantling it.”
Another memorial scheduled to be “laid down” in the near future is this one of Surgeon-Major William James Guthrie Bedford (died 1902):
Talking about William James Gutherie Bedford, Edwards explained: “In the 1870s, Britain decided that Australia was now in a position to defend itself and withdrew the British Army garrison.
“An Australian army was formed, initially consisting of a battery of artillery and a company of soldiers to defend it. They of course needed a medical officer and William James Gutherie Bedford became the first officer of what would become the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps.
“He held that position for several years and returned to England on his retirement, until his wife died. He remarried and they moved to Doddington – Coney House down Benwick Road – where he died a few years later.”
Bob Ollier, manager of Fenland District Council’s Parks & Open Spaces department, told the Doings that the safety programme is to ensure unstable memorials don’t fall and potentially injure or kill people.
“We welcome the public raising money to help fund the restoration of memorials, or alternatively contacting stonemasons or memorial restoration businesses — for example, we have used Kent Memorials in March for restorations in the area,” he said.
Regarding Doddington churchyard, Ollier admitted that memorials are laid down “fairly quickly” after being marked, usually within 24-48 hours.
If you want to contact Fenland District Council about the memorials scheduled to be laid down, you can phone (01354 654321), email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or write a message on Facebook.
– Tim Lince