I am always amazed at the power of nature to reclaim and cover up the works of mankind. Working in the churchyard this weekend revealed just how easily nature takes over. Our Gardening Team were continuing with the major task of cutting back the overgrown trees and hedges that have taken over the edges of the churchyard. Chainsaws and machetes at the ready as the brambles and thickets gave way they were amazed to discover a headstone – one which none of them knew was there – one which seemingly had been long lose possibly even forgotten.
Thomas Batting died in 1905 aged 59. His headstone is a cross beautifully engraved with ivy. Thomas’ ivy design headstone was now completely smothered in ivy. The great irony of the situation is that having cleared the plants away the stone looks to be in great condition, over a hundred years old and looking almost as good as new; being covered in this way has protected the stone from the elements.
Work continued and another headstone was revealed, this time close to the path again completely hidden and protected by ivy. This time we have revealed the resting place of John Shears who died aged 13 years and 9 months on Boxing Day 1941. So sad to think he passed away so young. Again John’s stone seems to be in excellent condition, protected by those weeds that had hidden him from view for so long. Thanks to David Morrish for his research which has found that John Lake Shears and his twin brother George Castle Shears were born in April 1928 in St Thomas. Their mother’s maiden name was Ella Castle. She married Herbert Shears in St Thomas in early 1927. Although John died at aged 13 in 1941 Goerge lived unitl 1994 and his sons are believed to be living in Exeter
There is much more work to do – on the day we were all working really hard to cut back as much as we could and to clear all our trimmings to leave the churchyard fit for use. This meant that John and Thomas have simply been cleared of their smothering of weeds. I plan to return next week and restore their resting places to something closer to their rightful glory.
We are all intrigued to know the stories of these two souls. Can you help?