Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Unfortunately Drowned

J. Saunders 1778

St Thomas’ Church is located in the centre of Ryde, at the bottom of the High Street, in St Thomas’ Square. The church closed in 1959; it is unoccupied and unused today.

The southern part of the church graveyard was turned into a Garden of Rest in 1986. When the Garden of Rest was laid out, some damaged headstones with interesting and intact upper portions were severed and inserted in concrete bases.

The headstone shown here has a part inscription which records:

‘James son of James and Mary Saunders who was unfortunately drowned…’ (1778).

The 18th century symbolic carvings are well preserved – skull on coffin, urn with rising flames and crossed bones. There are also matching shells for a death at sea.

Headstones not infrequently record that people ‘accidentally drowned’ and it is comforting to know it was not deliberate. However, the recording ‘unfortunately drowned’ might infer that sometimes it is a fortunate event.

Photograph by Kate MacDonell July 2017