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This Record of Monumental Inscriptions and Burial Records at the Parish Church of St George, Benenden, Kent, completed in 2015, was prepared for distribution in text form as a paper copy and on microfiche in a format devised for the Oxford Family History Society by Dr Alan Simpson, whose support was invaluable. This electronic version, distributed as a compact disk, comprises the full text of the transcript, with the addition of photographs of the graves taken during the transcription.

Sources for the Monumental Inscriptions go beyond personal inspection and photography of the existing memorials. A detailed book was published in 1889 titled "Monumental Inscriptions of Benenden Church and Churchyard" by Rev Francis Haslewood. (Haslewood's book is available on openlibrary.org, and the transcribed MI records are also available online from the Kent Archaeological Society). That was used and updated by Lt Col Peter F. White in typescript up to 1 June 1975, with Addenda up to 1983.

Sources for the Burial Records start with the original Registers from 1558 to 1962 (with some gaps) kept by the Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone and also Canterbury Cathedral Archives. These were diligently transcribed in 5 magisterial typescript volumes by Lt Col Peter F. White; copies are held by the Church Archivist, Kent History and Library Centre and Canterbury Cathedral Chapter Library. The records from 1558 to 1903 have also been transcribed by the Kent Archaeological Society (available to members on CD); readings do not always agree with Peter White's and both have been entered here without going back to the pre-1900 microfiches. The burial register covering 1963 to July 1995 was sadly lost when the chest containing it was stolen from the church. A dedicated team of Parishioners subsequently gathered what information was available about burials since 1963 from inspecting the memorials in the churchyard and the outline information published in issues of the Parish Magazine.

This CD attempts to gather together all the available information and make it more widely accessible. It started when David Harmsworth embarked in 2007 on creating a new plan alongside the spreadsheet record of personal details and known locations which Clive Turner had created based on the information gathered from Peter White's books and the research following the theft. Discovering that at the turn of the millenium Mrs Joan Hagens had undertaken a further laborious programme of transcription, the notion of electronically combining these records led to the project to create a CD on the OFHS model. Lalage Johnstone assisted hugely with typing up the transcripts. Without the very supportive technical assistance of Nick Eastwood in the final conversion of the plan from drawing to screen, it might never have been completed.

The Index of names comes in two parts: an Index of known graves, and a separate Index of names with no known location, names found in transcriptions of burial records but without record of location. It should be noted that until 1752 the New Year began not on January 1 but March 25, so, for example, an entry before this date reading 1 January 1729, would by our reckoning actually be 1 January 1730; so exact year dates before 1752 are questionable.

The Plan which accompanies this record, includes all the visible monuments in the church and graveyard, and also known burials without visible markers.

The Areas of the Churchyard. Haslewood gives only very general indications of locations. The earliest sign of a system for numbering rows and plots is found in Peter White's book ; his division of the extensive southern area (Very Old Ground, Old Ground, New Ground), used and recorded from the 1970s to 2015, was not ideally suited to computerisation, and a new division has been made which splits the church and graveyard into twelve sections, designated by the initial letters A, C, D, E, F, G, H, N, S, T, U & V.
For burial plots, this letter is followed by a second letter defining the row, and then a number of three digits indicating the individual grave within the row (e.g. GF027). In the areas for interment of ashes, plots are simply numbered with the area (e.g. T026).
These divisions are as follows, together with their previous equivalents and the span of recorded burial dates:

A The church itself. (No previous numbering)
N The northern area of the graveyard. (VOGN, 1713-1880)
E The area directly east of the church. (VOGE, 1697-1892)
S The southern area closest to the church. (VOGS, 1652-1942)
C The area to the south of E. (OG_A to P, 1862-1990)
D The area to the south of S.(OG_Q to Z & 1-12, 1854-1960)
F The area to the south of D.(NG_Q to Z & 1-12, 1901-2014)
G The area south-west of the church. (NG_13-20A, 1920-2011)
H The southernmost area. (H, 1998-2015)
T The cremation area at the northern end of G.(CE, 1960-2015)
U The northern section of the western cremation area.(CNW, 1984-2013)
V The cremation area south of U. (CNW, 1983-2015)

The Numbering systems are not consistent; where possible, the existing plot numbers have been retained in the new system, but in some instances decisions have been made to reallocate row and/or plot references for greater accuracy. In the older areas, where gravestones are only intermittent, plots are numbered sequentially. But in areas of the graveyard where graves are in well defined rows, the numbering system reflects this by taking account of unmarked plots.

The Convention for Transcription used when recording the inscriptions is the standard method, whereby only the surname is shown in capital letters, with the rest of the inscription in lower case. There is no real attempt to follow the capitalisation, or typeface, of the original inscription. Capitalisation of initial letters of names and the start of sentences generally follows modern practice. All punctuation visible on the stone is transcribed as accurately as possible, within the limitations of the computer typeface.

Where part of a stone is not decipherable, square brackets are used to indicate missing letters or words, thus [ ]. If the spacing of the surrounding letters gives a clue to the number of missing letters these will be marked within the bracket thus: [_ _ _]. If a letter is in doubt, it will be placed in square brackets in the same way, or possible alternatives may be indicated, thus: Died 187[0 or 6].

In the standard paper and fiche transcripts the "/" symbol is used to indicate line ends, in order to save space. In this CD version, space is not at a premium and the lines are placed as found on the stone. However no attempt is made to fit the modern type to the correct line lengths and all the lines are centred. The true layout can often be judged from the photograph.

Additional Information about the grave is shown in italics. Normally this consists of a brief description of the grave, preceding the inscription. In some cases further information may be added, in italics, following the inscription. This is often information from the burial register, where it adds to, confirms or contradicts something read from the stone.


The Parish Church of St George, Benenden. Copyright © 2015. With grateful acknowledgment to the Oxfordshire Family History Society.