This is a Tombstone Tuesday post with a difference. I mentioned on Sunday that I had found the burial place of Dorothy May TROWER (née BATEMAN) my great-grandmother. The reason that I hadn’t found it sooner was because there is no headstone.
I already knew that Dorothy was buried in the churchyard at Sayers Common, Sussex from the memorial card pictured below, but didn’t know exactly where.
As you can see Dorothy died in 1916 aged just 27 years old. She left her husband of less than five years with two daughters, Dorothy Annie (not yet four years old) and Eleanor May (under six months old). It is my belief that is was Dorothy’s death that prevented (or saved) her husband Henry John TROWER having to serve in the First World War, but I have no proof of this yet.
Dorothy’s exact burial place was revealed on a plan of Sayers Common Churchyard at West Sussex Record Office (WSRO PAR 478/7/8). The catalogue description for the plan was not very inspiring, something along the lines of “Plan of burial ground of Christchurch, Sayers Common”. I have often looked at the entry and wondered what the plan actually showed.
The plan itself is about one metre square and was marked with the outline of the church (before it’s extension) , the paths and boundaries and most importantly burial plots. The plots were laid out in a grid like pattern, with the rows labelled by letters.
Some of the plots had names written in them, some were readable, some weren’t. There was a variety of handwriting, ink and legibility. I checked the area of the churchyard where the known TROWER headstones are and next to them in rather blurred writing was the name Dorothy May TROWER. It wasn’t clear, but unmistakably the name of my great-grandmother.
I couldn’t believe that I had actually found her resting place, to be honest it wasn’t something I had been looking for, which made the discovery all the more rewarding. There was also the thrill that comes from knowing that I was probably the only family member that knew where she was buried.
I have been there many times, photographing the graves and cleaning them up, but had never known my great-grandmother had been laid to rest so close to the rest of the family.
The exact location is shown in the photo below (taken in last June). Dorothy May TROWER is buried between the grave in the top-left (Ruth TROWER) and the double grave in the top-right (not my family) behind the one in the middle (Mabel Annie TROWER).