Plot Spotting

Need help in finding someone in Wycombe Cemetery?
Plot Spotter Richard Ogden
Plot Spotter Richard Ogden will try to help put you on the right road. Remember, he can only help with burials which took place between 1855 and 2004. You will need to supply the name of the person you are looking for – for a married woman, only the married surname is any use. The more common the name, the more detail (additional Christian names) will help! An approximate year of death is needed – a very brief description of occupation can also help. (For many years, nearly all women were either "spinster", "widow" or "wife of...") The exact location cannot be guaranteed – the burial may be found, but if there is no memorial, especially if the burial is in the apparently wide open spaces of public grave areas, only a very general location may be possible.
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More about Richard:

For several years I was involved in the administration of Wycombe Cemetery. During this time I gained a detailed knowledge of the cemetery layout and the history of the cemetery in general. I also acquired a greater understanding of what the records actually recorded. For example, it was an odd convention in the Victorian days that a child's mother and father were only both mentioned if the child was stillborn – if he or she lived, even if only for a few minutes, the mother's name was not recorded – unless the father had died before the birth. We have, however, come across one or two cases where it is pretty obvious that parents didn’t like this, and both names are recorded. Another convention was the recording of women: for example the vast majority of ladies, if not "Wife of x", would be recorded as "Spinster" or "Widow" and very few would have been given an occupation.

And where exactly might the grave be found once a grave number has been located in the records? Well, this is where you really need to know a bit about the layout of the cemetery. Let’s say, for example, that the grave we are after is B108 Con ie it is Grave No 108 in section B Consecrated. The records may also state that it is a Private grave – not by any means that common in the late C19th when large sections of the cemetery were reserved for public burials which would have had no headstones.

Sections A and B of the cemetery are the first you come to as you enter from the old, Priory Road entrance, and all are Private – with the Main Drive or ‘Lime Avenue’ going straight ahead of you. The section to the left, sloping downhill, is Consecrated graves ie for Church of England burials. The section to the right – sloping uphill – is what was known, rather alarmingly, as Unconsecrated, but is now better described as "non-Church of England" burials ie for any other denomination. So B108 Con is on the downhill slope as one enters from Priory Road and is a private grave.

How readily can it be located? Well, most of the private graves do have a stone, but that stone is not always still legible – on some the "face" has fallen off (especially if sandstone), on some ivy or other vegetation may have taken over. And in not a few cases, the stone has fallen over, with a 50% chance of falling on its face. If there is not a stone, or one that is no longer legible, it is usually possible to locate the grave by comparing names on adjacent graves with the records.

As already mentioned in the history of Wycombe Cemetery an added complication with Sections A and B is that the plan (of how graves were to be dug) was redrawn in 1885, 30 years after the cemetery was opened. It is clear that, originally, it was expected that there would be a demand for a number of very large graves, tombs or vaults, but by 1885 it was obvious that such large graves were not going to be required, so the plan of those parts of the sections which were not yet occupied was redrawn to accommodate more of the more modest graves. B108 Con, dating as it does from 1895, is clearly a "redrawn" one – indeed, on the old plan there was no grave in A or B numbered above 100 but in the revised plan numbers exceed 200. Furthermore, at the same time, the actual division between A and B was changed from, let's say, vertical to horizontal, so that some existing rows of graves now find that their numbering starts with the prefix A and half way through the prefix changes to B.

No wonder we called this website Lost the Plot!

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Plot Spotter Richard Ogden