An Appeal from the Paupers Graves Team

Paupers Graves
Paupers' Graves Stowmarket

In 1999, as a Millennium project, Onehouse Parish Council bought the Paupers Graves site situated near Stow Lodge Flats (the old workhouse) from the government. It was for a nominal fee providing the site was cared for. It was all overgrown as no one had looked after the graves for a number of years. 

In Victorian times, paupers dying in a Workhouse were not allowed to be buried in a Church or Town Graveyard as it was ‘consecrated’ ground. Paupers had to be buried ‘outside the wall’ of any consecrated burial ground, unless they had relatives who paid the fee for a Christian burial. In most cases, their graves didn’t have their name. Instead, they were given a cast iron number!

Since the year 2000, a band of local volunteers have been clearing the site. Most of the people buried here came from Stowmarket and the villages surrounding the town. A number of the small crosses, which marked the graves, have been found. We have installed a board explaining the history of the site and there is a large cross listing all the numbers we have found. This will be to remember those people who have no other grave. The Paupers’ Graves site is now looking rather special with benches for people to come and sit in a quiet tranquil area. 

Recently, we have had a success story. Julie Johnson, a lady who lived in Nacton as a child, is doing a dissertation for her Master’s Degree on Paupers’ Burial Grounds. She has discovered the names of three hundred people buried at the site from 1813 – 1835. All the other records have been destroyed or gone missing!

Below is a letter from Julie asking for help in identifying any names that perhaps still have families living in the Stowmarket area. We are hoping that we can raise enough money to have a proper memorial plaque erected with all their names on. They were people who had nothing all their lives but they all lived; therefore, they should be acknowledged and remembered. So, if you could help with identifying any one of them please contact Julie.

Ray Taylor on behalf of the Paupers’ Team. 

I’m looking for anyone who had relatives who lived in the Stow Union or Nacton workhouse between 1813 and 1835. This was obviously a long time ago, but despite the passage of time, there may be individuals in the region who have worked on their family history, been handed down records or have any stories recounted to them by their grandparents about their ancestors.

This is for a dissertation as well as a local project that is currently being worked on to recognise those individuals. I’ll be working on case studies of people from this era, so any information you can offer will help bring context to their lives. Even the tiniest piece of information would be beneficial. I will then share whatever information I discover about your ancestor with you. If you can help, please contact me by email at: contact@back-to-your-roots.co.uk or at my website at: www.back-to-your-roots.co.uk.

 Many thanks, Julie. 

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