Around 1980, the Society spent very many hours recording the gravestones of the cemeteries of our area. We not only transcribed the names and epitaphs but, where they existed, the names of the stonemasons at the foot of the stones. Apart from two examples in the 18th century, the names were all from the 19th and 20th centuries.
In this area, several places were the sites of stone mining: there come to mind Binton, Temple Grafton, Wilmcote, Great Alne and Bidford-on-Avon.
These places became well-known for their masons and some familles engaged in producing headstones for graves and they learned the craft of producing the necessary inscriptions and the designs which surmounted them. The area had a surprisingly good supply of monumental masons in the 19th century and some of the familles extended through the 19th and into the 20th century.
Bidford-on-Avon was the prime centre for this craft, with offshoots of the masons' familles taking root in other centres in the area. The name which appears most on our gravestones is DAVIS of Bidford. Charles Davis and his followers go through on stones and in trade directories from 1810 to 1930. The family also took its craft to Inkberrow. Examples of their work may be found in nearly every parish which we surveyed. If 18th century masons appended their names, they are mostly illegible but at Coughton and Salford Priors we discovered the name of LAUGHTON on stones of 1746 and 1747: This man was of Cleeve Prior.
Other 19th to 20th century memorial stone makers included:
BERRIDGE and WYATT, both of Alcester.
HOUGHTON of Bidford and Redditch.
CHFFORD of Stratford.
WILKES of Grafton, with 1818 as the earliest date.
With so many memorial masons in South Warwickshire it is perhaps surprising that many gravestones came from many miles away: we noted King's Heath, Long bridge, Tenbury, Mitcham, Evesham, Worksop, Matlock, Coventry, Sheffield,- Pershore among others. From the mid 19th century, of course, people learned to send things by rail and if they preferred a harder stone than this area could provide, the world was their oyster.
Summer 1996 Index