The history of most churches is well-documented. Many churches offer publications for sale that describe the architectural history of the building, the stained glass, the font, the clerical incumbents and benefactors and other interior features of interest. In recent years much of this information has also been made available online. However very few churches offer detailed guides to the gravestones outside the building. Occasionally a detailed study may have been made of a single churchyard by local enthusiasts, but no-one seems to have made studies of all the burial sites within a larger area. The development of the digital camera has now made projects such as this possible.
We visited every churchyard and cemetery in Herefordshire between 2011 and 2015. We have also been inside the churches if they were open. This book concentrates on memorials outside the churches, but we have included a few interior memorials that tell particularly interesting stories. All the illustrations are taken from our website; the website also has pictures of those gravestones noted here without an illustration.
The memorials included in this book are our own personal choices. Many of them record stories and events that would merit further research - beyond the scope of this book but another project for someone else.
We note that very many old gravestones are no longer legible, so their inscriptions are lost for ever. This process continues, and combined with clearance of graveyards for reasons such as easier grass-cutting or safety, is leading to the permanent loss of this precious resource for genealogy and social history.
We visit churchyards wherever we are in the country, from Scotland to Cornwall, and from the Welsh coast to Suffolk, and are continuing our project. We plan to complete our survey of Worcestershire in 2016, with a view to producing a book similar to this one. Our first one, "Gravestones of Shropshire" is also available from Amazon.
We encourage readers to explore their local graveyards and to make their discoveries available to everyone on the internet.