The Graveyard and Monuments
Nottingham Family History have compiled and published a list of gravestones and monuments inside the church. It lists gravestones up to the middle of the 1980s, but inevitably there are some errors. We have published a revised updated list on this site, and hope to keep updating it and to add a graveyard plan. Meanwhile the book can also be viewed in Nottinghamshire Library Local-Studies Collections.
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Before the middle of the 19th century, Coddington Church was annexed to the benefice of East Stoke. Because we had no separate vicar, secular leaders managed the vestry accounts and had a large influence on vestry matters. We have a handwritten notebook containing church vestry accounts from 1790s to early 1860s, which contains some accounts of expenditure on the fabric of the church and the graveyard. By 1844 however, the church and churchyard had fallen into disrepair and was even claimed to be unsafe.
Coddington became a separate Parish in 1860. The new vicar Rev Dolphin and James Thorpe (who came to own a large part of the village) were largely responsible for the restoration of the church in 1864 - 65. The architect contracted to oversee the work was G.F. Bodley, who involved the young partnership of Morris, Marshall and Faukner to decorate the church. When the work was completed in 1866 the churchyard was enlarged and planted with ornamental shrubs. The graves of Colonel James Thorpe (who largely financed the rebuilding), his two wives and other family members are together near the west entrance of the graveyard. Rev Dolphin's initials are inscribed on the inside of the porch, high up in the eaves above the door.
The newspaper account of the opening contrasts the state of church and graveyard in 1865 to its former state - "an untidy churchyard with its tottering tombstones and decayed wall a church bearing the marks of antiquity almost gone to decay, and buried by the accumulated soil of the past centuries". (During the rebuilding the church floor level was raised by four steps.) It states that a new churchyard wall had been built, with parishioners contributing a 5d in the £ rate towards the cost. The works fund was in defecit and although the extension of the graveyard to the south was envisioned "a burial ground that has for many years been greatly needed" it was many years before this happened. (This may also help explain why a number of Coddington citizens are buried in Barnby).
The graveyard has been extended several times - taking in parts of what was the orchard of Charity farm. The first area in front of the South door was added between 1884 and 1900, presumably around 1890 when headmaster Chauntry-Hunt set an essay "The new part of the churchyard" for the 6th-7th standard schoolchildren.
Close to the exterior door to the Chancel, standing against the south wall is a large rectangular stone monument whose inscription has now almost entirely spalled off. It is that of Moses Ashwell who was borm in 1751. The Ashwells are a very ancient family of yeoman farmers in Coddington - we know of wills of Ashwell family members dating back to 1549 and they were petitioners for the 1760 Enclosure Act.
Inside the church we have a roll of honour for villagers who served in the forces in WW1. In 1921 a marble tablet was placed there, honouring those who gave their lives for their country:
1914 - 1918
BRYAN, Alfred MM
THORPE, John S MC
YOUNG, Charles J
1939 - 1945
In the tower room there are a pair of stone monuments set into the walls to members of the Colcroft family. They are the earliest known occupants (in the 1780s) of Beaconfield House which was later to be called Coddington Hall. (There was an estate or farm there before this house, because we know of a charitable bequest by William Bell 'out of Beaconsfield'.) The stone tabletsmonument may be in their original positions, because the tower was not rebuilt in 1865, merely encased in ashlar. They mention a vault, but we don't know its position - the church floor level was raised 'by 4 steps' when the church was rebuilt.
In the vestry several old carved stones have been incorporated into the wall, but we know nothing more of them. Memorials in the church usually commemorate gifts from the Thorpe family, either brass plaques or dedications incorporated into stained glass windows.
Between 1890 and 1922 Rev Charles Penswick-Smith served our village as vicar. His daughter, Constance Penswick-Smith (1878 - 1938) became a tireless campaigner for 25 years for the revival of Mothering Sunday in Britain. She was concerned that the religious aspects of the medieval festival of Mothering Sunday would be overshadowed by the new American tradition of Mother?s Day, begun in 1906 by Miss Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia. You can find the Penswick-Smith graves near the church porch. Mothering Sunday services have special significance for our village and elements of the services reflect this.
The sad death of Captain John Somerled Thorpe, the owner of Coddington Hall, had very large repercussions for the village. Coddington Hall was requisitioned by military authorities and began the slide which led to it's demolition in the 1960s. The Thorpe family sold their estate (to move to their other estate in Argyll) and aljost half the village was sold by auction in 1918. Mrs Thorpe gave the church a marble tablet commemorating her husband and attached copies of his medals to it.
The text of the monument reads:
SANS PEUR ET SANS REPROCHE
GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS THAT
A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS
TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN
LOVING MEMORY OF MY HUSBAND
JOHN SOMERLED THORPE M.C.
CAPTAIN SCOTS GUARDS
OF CODDINGTON HALL IN THE COUNTY OF
NOTTS AND ARDBRECKNISH ARGYLL
JOINED SCOTS GUARDS 1893
SERVED THROUGHOUT SOUTH AFRICAN WAR
REJOINED HIS OLD REGIMENT 1914
WAS TWICE WOUNDED
KILLED IN THE SOMME BATTLE WHILE TEMPORARILY
COMMANDING 2ND BATTN SCOTS GUARDS
ON SEPTEMBER 16TH 1916 AGED 43
MENTIONED IN DESPATCHES
WAS AWARDED MILITARY CROSS
?FOR GALLANTRY AND COOLNESS IN COLLECTING?
?ISOLATED GROUPS OF MEN AT LOOS & HOLDING?
?A DEFENCE POSITION FOR THREE DAYS AND?
?NIGHTS UNTIL RELIEVED?
HIS BODY LIES IN THE MILITARY
CEMETERY AT CARNOY R. I. P.