Grave slab commemorating Ralph Hardman and his daughter, c1695, re-used in the early C20.
Reason for Listing
The Hardman grave slab, c1695, in St Mary's churchyard, Prestwich, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Early date: It is an increasingly rare survival of a C17 grave slab with an original inscription that remains fully legible
* Imagery: The foot of the grave slab incorporates an unusual incised carving of a 'Green Man' style face set within a scrolled motif
* Historic interest: It illustrates the extensive history of the St Mary's churchyard and the original Prestwich-cum-Oldham parish, once one of the largest and wealthiest parishes in the country
* Group value: It has group value with the Grade I listed St Mary's Church and the other listed monuments and structures in the St Mary's churchyard
St Mary's Church, Prestwich, dates to the C14 with later alterations, and the oldest extant grave marker in the churchyard dates to 1641. However, the topography of the churchyard suggests a much older burial ground. The churchyard has been extended many times, including in 1827 when boundary walls were constructed. Prior to these walls being erected the churchyard was enclosed by a ditch and hedge created in 1706, and subsequently by the planting of beech and fir trees in 1763. Further extensions of the churchyard occurred in 1864, 1886, 1924 and 1950.
The western section of the churchyard contains, amongst other graves, the unmarked burials of thousands of inmates of the County Asylum Prestwich dating from the mid-C19 to early-C20, although several communal graves for the asylum's attendants and some inmates are marked by grave slabs. In 1801 a hearse house (altered in the mid-late C20) was constructed to the north of the church.
Located to the south-west of St Mary's Church. Sandstone, rectangular grave slab with a simple incised arch motif to the top, finely incised carving of a 'Green Man' style face set within a scrolled motif to the foot of the slab. Carved incised lettering in Early Modern English to the upper part of the slab reads 'Here Refteth the Bodies of/ Ralph Hardman of Macher/ buried Novembr ye 9th 1695/ Spe beatae refurrectionis'. Below is a further inscription, which reads 'Efther his Daughter buried/ Febry 16 1694'. Seemingly unrelated early-C20 inscriptions to the lower part of the slab read 'ALSO OF ALFRED HEYWOOD/ WHO DIED APRIL 17TH 1905/ AGED 37 YEARS' and 'ALSO ELIZA WIFE OF CHARLES BENTLEY/ WHO DIED APRIL 14TH 1905/ AGED 37 YEARS'.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.