Three C18 Baptist headstones within the former Wheelbarrow Town Baptist burial ground.
Reason for Listing
The three C18 headstones are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Design interest and survival: this is a well-preserved group of C18 headstones, which bear bold, well-executed, inscriptions and carved imagery characteristic of their date;
* Historic interest and rarity: the headstones are the only survivors to identify this unusual example of a private burial ground, used by an early rural Baptist enclave;
* Historic association: the headstones commemorate a family group, which is firmly tied through the inscriptions to the Nonconformist congregation to which they belonged.
Wheelbarrow Town is a small hamlet, split between the parishes of Lyminge, Elham and Stelling Minnis. Research by various local historians suggests that Wheelbarrow Town was a stronghold of early Baptists; documentary evidence of a Baptist congregation linked to the main east Kent Baptist church at Eythorne dates back to 1679. From the late C18 the congregation had a chapel within the hamlet itself, which was subsequently used by the Wesleyan Methodists once the Baptist congregation died out in the early C19. The chapel survives now as nos. 1 and 2 Chapel Cottages.
The burial ground is a roughly triangular piece of land, set within a rolling rural landscape. The boundaries of the site are marked with a post and wire fence; the north and east boundaries are also marked by trees, and there are several trees within the site.
The age of the Wheelbarrow Town burial ground is not known, however the dates of the remaining headstones show that it predates the chapel. Although there are now only three remaining headstones, it is thought that there could be at least 100 burials on the site (this figure is based on interpretation by local historians of burial records held by Lyminge Parish Church). Anecdotal evidence suggests that fallen headstones in the burial ground were taken by local residents and put to alternative uses â€“ in one case as the floor of a dog kennel (see 'Bossingham and Stelling Minnis Memories').
The three remaining headstones within the burial ground have been arranged immediately beside one another, with the central headstone being inscribed in memory of Sarah Shrubsole, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Fagg, whose headstones are to either side. Sarah Shrubsole was the wife of Phineas Shrubsole, apothecary and Baptist minister from 1766, who served as a surgeon's mate in the Royal Navy during the American War of Independence and was buried at sea. Given the immediate proximity of the headstones to one another, and order of death, they must have at some stage been moved from their original position, however because of the family relationship between those commemorated, it seems possible that they have always formed a group.
The headstones are now arranged tightly beside each other, under the spread of a Yew tree. The central headstone is the largest of the three and the most simple; it has a curved head, with small semi-circular 'ears' to either side. The inscription reads:
Sarah Wife of Phineas Shrubsole / and Daughter of / Thomas and Sarah Fagg / who departed this life January 12 / 1789 aged 66 years.
A further inscription is illegible except for the words: 'joining our son' and 'Phineas'
The headstone to the left is that of Sarah Fagg, which has three skulls carved in relief across the head. The inscription reads:
Here lie thy Body / of Sarah Wife of Thos / Fagg Who Died Nov / 19 1736 Aged 50 Yea.
The headstone to the right is that of Thomas Fagg, which has a cherub's head and scrolled decoration carved in relief along the head. The inscription reads:
Here lieth the Body of / Thomas Fagg who left / Issue 1 Son and Daughter Viz: / Tho & Sarah he departed / this life April 11 1764 / Aged 75 Years. / I'm only gone a little while before / Prepare, prepare to follow me there.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.