Cam’s Historic Graveyards
There is a wealth of History to be discovered in Cam's graveyards. This walking tour includes four graveyards.
You'll visit St Bart's at the bottom of Cam Pitch; the Methodist Chapel in Chapel Street and then a short distance away in Upper Cam the graveyards of the 3c and that of St George's. As you visit the graveyards you will travel back in time from the most recent churchyard in Cam to its oldest.
Details and start point
Distance: 3 miles
Distance: 4.8 km
Walking time: 1.5 hours
Grid Reference: SO749003
What 3 Words: saddens.streak.shirt
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Step by Step Directions
1Start this walk from the Parish Council Car Park in Cam (nearby postcode is GL11 5PS) and walk up Cam Pitch a short distance to find St Bart's on your right.
2St Bartholomew's Church
The church was built on the site of a former house belonging to the Phillimore clothier family. Stonemasons from Frampton and Stonehouse were employed in its construction which was financed by Elizabeth Hopton. The church was originally a chapel of ease for St George’s. At the time, the vicar of St George’s was influenced by the Oxford Movement, which is why St Bart’s had a robed choir and weekly communion and was considered ‘high church’. In 1920 it cost 7 shillings and sixpence a quarter to mow the churchyard!
It is hardly surprising that there are war graves in Cam’s cemeteries and in St Bart’s there are graves which tell a story of lives lost through war since the first vicar, Reverend Penley, was installed here in 1888. First, enter the more recent extension to the graveyard and look for a remarkable grave in Portland stone to the right of the path. The whiteness of the Portland stone will stand out and you will be able to identify the grave of local boy, Martin Lamb.
This is a sad and poignant reminder of very recent conflict. Martin died in 2011, killed by an ‘IED’ whilst on foot patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Martin attended Rednock School in Dursley and is well remembered by his many local friends as well as those from further afield. He joined the army in 2003 and he had been deployed in both Afghanistan and Iraq. His grave is the most recent one of a casualty of war. Let us hope it is the last.
3To the left you will now enter the old graveyard through metal gates directly opposite the church porch.
To the left you will see another grave which stands out because of the Portland stone; the grave of Ivy Sparrow, Air Woman First Class . During World War Two, Ivy had enlisted in the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). WAAF members were not allowed to fly, but were attached to RAF units as back up to the male pilots. Women pilots served in the Air Transport Auxiliary, ferrying planes.
Like Martin Lamb, Ivy is personally remembered by those yet living, although not in such numbers. Ivy was the daughter of Albert and Frances Sparrow of Lower Cam. She had three brothers; Ray, Arthur and Dennis. During World War Two, Ivy was stationed in Blackpool where she was training as a wireless operator. She was killed in a road accident. Ivy’s sister in law, Gladys, also joined the WAAF and served in the East End of London and in Bristol, helping with the tough and strenuous task of raising barrage balloons to serve as obstacles to low flying enemy aircraft.
Next, find your way to the north side of the churchyard where there is a grave and a memorial to two casualties of World War One. In the North East corner is a Portland stone memorial to local boy Charles Coopey, son of Mr D. Coopey of ‘The Quarry’.
Notice that the Portland stone war graves are not in the shape of a cross. This was to reflect equality in death, since those killed in World War One came from different religious backgrounds. In some ways this grave is surprising because Field Marshall Haig and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had made the decision not to bring the bodies of dead soldiers back from the fields of conflict.
However, because Charles died of wounds at home he was buried here in Cam. The remains of his comrade in arms, Richard Worthington are not in Cam, thus there is an inscription dedicated to him on the Worthington family grave just a few metres away to the west of Charles’ grave. Richard served in the TA and was mobilised in 1916. He fought in the battle of the Somme and died in 1917 in the battle of Cambrai. Finally return to the yew tree in the South West corner of the churchyard where, nearby, you will find a stone cross with a small plaque at the centre. This grave belongs to Sargeant William Bradshaw of the 1st Battalion Scots Fusilier Guards. Look closely and you will see that he was a veteran of the Crimean War (1853 – 1856). He saw action at the battle of Inkerman and the siege of Sebastapol. Surviving the war, he remained in the army until 1875 when he became a Pensioner at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. There used to be a cast iron grave marker in the churchyard which belonged to a soldier of the Boer War but it has gone missing. If anyone knows what happened to these grave markers please let me know via Dursley Welcomes Walkers.
4Cam Methodist Church
Leave St Bart’s when you have finished exploring the graveyard and return down Cam Pitch, turning right into Chapel Street where you will find Cam Methodist Chapel on your left.
The Methodist Chapel is older than St Bart’s and was inaugurated in 1825 as you can see above the porch. The graveyard is behind the chapel and can be accessed from Rowley, which is the road running down the left hand side of the chapel. Cam Methodist Chapel’s burial register started in 1847 when Ann Tyrell was buried in vault number one. The first burial in the graveyard was that of Elizabeth Phillips in 1849.
Look up at the back wall of the chapel and you will see the names of those buried in the vaults under the church. Note the name William Rose of Gossington who died 27th June 1849. His funeral expenses were as follows: engraving a coffin plate - 8 shillings, inscription in the chapel – 12 shillings, opening and closing the vault - £2.4s, hire of hearse, horses and coachman - £3.3s. William’s wife, Hester Rose died in 1841.
You should be able to make out her name on the wall too (vault number 6). She was the Great Aunt of the cricketer W.G.Grace. In her will, dated 1839, she gave £150 to the chapel funds. Reuben Hill is also buried in the vaults here and there is a plaque to his memory inside the chapel.
Reuben Hill built over 70 cottages in Cam in the 1820s, each with a tiled or slate roof and big enough for two handlooms in the upstairs weaving room with a large window. Reuben Hill rented them to weavers who worked from home. The depression in the cloth trade ruined much of his investment as well as the weavers themselves, but he still left substantial property in Cam, Dursley and Gloucester, to his 6 daughters, son in law and 2 sons in his will of 1863.
Vault number 4 is that of Trophimus Holloway, a farmer from Scar Farm Newent who was killed in a gun accident on his farm of 247 acres. The remains of his parents, Samuel and Nancy Holloway, are in vault number 7. Samuel was a grocer and tea dealer. He owned a shop and liquor store at Sandpits where the Police Station stands today.
Besides the vaults it is worth looking at some of the graves in the neatly kept graveyard. James and Priscilla Workman lost their son James when he was 17 years old.
Seven years earlier James had attended Prospect Place school in Dursley where he was a boarder. The Headmaster, Mr Hunt took his boarders to Dursley Methodist Chapel every Sunday. The Workman family lived at Draycott House and James senior owned the ‘grist and corn’ mills on the site. By 1920 they were popularly known as Workman’s Flour Mills.
5When you have finished looking at this quiet corner of Cam return to Chapel Street, turning left on Rowley, left again into Chapel Street, following Chapel Street as it turns left by the Foresters’ B & B, and then right, into Everlands.
You will shortly pass what was the administrative building for Cam Mills on your left, with the names of Hunt and Winterbotham inscribed on the front of the building in stone. Make a note since you will see Hunt and Winterbotham graves when you get to Upper Cam.
63c Community Church
Continue to the end of Everlands, to what was once the hamlet of Upper Cam, where you need to turn left in order to reach the 3c church on your right, a building more than 100 years older than the Methodist Chapel in Cam.
Formerly, Upper Cam Meeting House, the original building was completed in 1702 and by 1715 it had one of the largest non-conformist congregations in the county, numbering 800 people. The first minister here was Joseph Twemlow who died in 1740. He had elected to be wrapped in wool in his coffin to discourage the import of linen and encourage the local wool trade. In the early days of this Meeting House, members could be baptised but not buried. Instead the deceased were interred at St George's.
Eventually a tiny burial ground by the door to the road was initiated and, when this was full they expanded into a new space to the east of the church at a cost of £100 in 1881. For safety reasons, some of the graves have been laid flat. There are some interesting stories to tell and you may be able to find some of the graves of local characters listed below.
Exploring the main churchyard you should come across the grave of Thomas Hunt. You may remember that he was the partner of Winterbotham in the Cam Mills firm ‘Hunt and Winterbotham’. The two men went into a prosperous partnership in 1857 when Mr Hunt bought Cam Mills and so fell into debt to Arthur Winterbotham’s father, the Stroud banker; Lyndsey Winterbotham.
Arthur was sent to safeguard his father’s interests at Cam Mills and under his direction the Mill expanded. Thomas Hunt was born in Minchinhampton in 1802. By 1881, his son Benjamin was manager at Hunt and Winterbotham’s Mill. Charles Steele was from a humbler background but still afforded a gravestone here. He lived at Springfield, a house between Cam Mills and the Railway Inn. Charles was a shoemaker and dealer in ready made boots.
His brother George lived next door at the time and was the postmaster and a photographer. Tom Weight was the church organist and choirmaster. He was a local farmer with land at Upthorpe. The annual Sunday School outing was to travel by hay wagon to his farm where he almost had a theme park! There were swings, swingboats, a home-made see-saw, a skittle alley and even a boat on the farm pond.
Try to find the grave of John Stiff if you can. He was the crossing gate keeper at Cam Junction in the days when the Dursley Donkey passenger railway ran between Coaley Junction and Dursley. John Stiff worked a 12 hour day for 7 shillings a week and was still working at the age of 80. Stiff is a local surname and Dursley Town Council Offices are in Jacob’s House, the house of Jacob Stiff.
7St George’s Church
St George’s is the oldest church on your tour, dating from 1131, the reign of Edward III.
Cross the road and you will easily find it down a short drive. The porch and the drive itself were added by the vicar, George Madan, in the 19th century to provide easier access to the south side of the church for funeral processions.
This explains why so many of the older table tombs are crammed together to the right of the entrance as some of them were moved in order to make space for the drive. Amongst them notice the names of prominent families in the local cloth trade such as Phillimore, Trotman, Hopton Hadley and Tyndale.
The most prestigious graves were often placed nearest to the entrance of the church since they would gain the most attention from worshippers as they arrived and so would benefit from more potential prayers for their departed souls.
You will notice how the land to the right of the drive is higher than the drive due to the sheer numbers of people buried there during the lifetime of the church, although clearly not all of the bodies are recognised with a gravestone. If you step up onto this higher area and head towards the southern boundary of the churchyard you will find a gravestone which tells something of the story of the Robinson family.
The father left farming near Wotton-u-Edge to become a local Sanitary Inspector, living at Rose Cottage nearby. Research of the census returns shows that he and his wife Hannah had 12 children in all, 7 boys and 5 girls of whom 6 survived into adulthood. Infant mortality in the UK peaked in the 1890s and this family’s experience reflects a national picture. By 1891 the family had moved to Silver Street in Dursley where Hannah Robinson ran the Ironmonger’s shop.
Near the East end of the church lies the most renowned table tomb in the churchyard, with a moral tale carved on its southern side. It is that of the ploughman who was killed by his plough chain whilst ploughing on a Sunday and probably dates from the 17th or 16th century.
Return to the main drive and continue around the church in a clockwise direction to find a gravestone near the west end of the building belonging to a thatcher who lived to be over 100 years old. Water damage is eroding the inscription but the tombstone was paid for by the Rt Hon. Lord Segrave ‘to perpetuate so remarkable an instance of longevity’. The burial register, however, lists his age at death as 96. Continuing in the same direction, near the junction of the paths you will find the Winterbotham and Hague gravestones. The Winterbotham grave is that of Arthur, son of the Arthur who went into business with Thomas Hunt. Adjacent is the Hague gravestone, a pink marble obelisk commemorating the life of Emily Page Winterbotham, daughter of Arthur senior. Emily married Major Hiram Hague. She was the first person in the Cam and Dursley area to be killed by a motor vehicle as she was returning to Norman Hill House one evening after a Mother’s Union meeting. There is a memorial seat opposite Dursley Police Station in her memory. Before leaving St George’s take time to admire the yew trees, some of which can live for over 100 years. They are popular in churchyards as they symbolise life, death and rebirth as yews regenerate when new roots coalesce with an old trunk. Yews can also fall and yet remain alive. They are symbols of an early Christian tradition based on Druid customs. This also explains why the gravestones in this oldest graveyard are all aligned West to East following the course of the sun, as they would previously have been in pagan burial grounds. Thus your journey back in time ends with a link to the pre-Christian era, although it is unlikely that anyone buried here pre-dates the construction of the church. The graves which preceded those we see now quite possibly had wooden boards which have not survived. Gravestones too are subject to erosion but they do provide a window into the past, especially when supported by other sources. I hope you have felt some connection with our predecessors, who have lived and died in Cam.
8To return to your starting point either retrace your steps or take the metal gate at the far side of the churchyard.
Turn left and follow the road all the way back to where you started, passing the War Memorial on the way.
We hope you have found this tour of interest and if you have any comments please contact us