The Scattered Stones
Only nine gravestones were left in the graveyard. Mr. A. Stapleton, the author of The Chronicles of Flawford', went to some trouble to trace the whereabouts of some of the missing stones and he produced the following information.
A headstone was discovered covering a well close to Pasture Lane about a quarter of a mile south of the junction with Clifton Lane. The inscription was not fully discernible, but read as follows:
At the end of the extension of Vicarage Lane (which, until recently, remained unmetalled) stands a house with an iron plate fixed to the wall.
Here were discovered two halves of the second earliest headstones in the parish. On was face downwards and could not be read, but the other was to the memory of Henry Wilkinson 'who departed this life April ye 15th Anno Domini 1724 and in the 73rd year of his age'. Enquiries showed that the Wilkinson family had previously lived in this house and it was suggested that they have removed the stone of their kinsman from Flawford to prevent its desecration by others. This motive may well apply to the removal of other stones from the churchyard.
The search then moved to the farmhouse said to be built on the site of the former 'West Hall1. The location of this was much later identified as the farmhouse which formerly stood at the west end of Distillery Street before the development of that area. There was in the field immediately to the west of this house a sunken road which was discernible almost as far north as the footpath which led from the village to the footbridge over the railway. From this point it would have linked up with the original line of Clifton Lane as it entered the village opposite the old Vicarage (now St. Peter's Rest Home) in Vicarage Lane. In the grounds of this farmhouse two stones were found, one in the garden and the other under an asphalt path; only the former was recovered. This was the stone of Sarah, wife of Thomas White, who died September 18th 1764, and William son of the above who died January 23rd 1766, aged 39.
It was discovered that another headstone had been buried 'during recent years' beneath a pavement in The Rookery' - the group of houses lying on the south side of Easthorpe Street. Since this stone could not be recovered, the inscription is not known.
Two more stones, both serving as well-covers, were found to the rear of the property lying at the north-east corner of the Green. One of these is the oldest stone known in the parish, though only the lower part remained.
The Parish Register is able to fill in the gaps by providing the following details:
The second stone was partly obscured by the pump, and the visible portion was badly worn by the feet of those who had used it, so that little of the inscription was readable.
Again the Parish Register supplied the missing details.
It was said that another stone lay over a well at The Paddock (the house and one-time farm standing back from the south-east corner of the Green). This, it was said, recorded the death of a young daughter of the Barker family who had died unmarried at the age of twenty-one. This is difficult to check in the Parish Register.
In 1910, probably as a result of this investigation, an appeal was made in the Parish Magazine for information on the location of any further missing headstones. There was no response at all - perhaps people remembered the earlier threat of prosecution.
Two stones escaped detection in the 1910 survey: these lay behind the house at the top of Shaw Street on the north side. This house had belonged to my uncle, the late Mr. Walter Marshall and I recall as a boy seeing these stones and being told that they were from Flawford. They formed the cover to a well and were partly hidden by the pump. Unfortunately I did not record the inscriptions and have since learned that the pump has been removed and the stones covered over. The house was demolished in late 1978 so that the site could be used as a car park. With the kind permission of the Ruddington Parish Council, members of the Flawford excavation team searched for the two stones, but without success. However, another stone was discovered opposite the front door of the house, but unfortunately this was badly worn and the inscription difficult to read:
Here lieth ye body of Mary (?) ..Robert ..departed th. Life in the ....' being, frustratingly, the only decipherable letters.
Perhaps the most unusual use of a headstone was for the floor of an oven in a bakehouse. It is said that bread baked in this oven bore the reversed letters of the inscription.
The foregoing accounts for twelve stones around the village, but it is almost certain that others lie buried and undetected. At Edwalton a stone which had for many years been used as a bridge over a stream on a disused footpath from Edwalton to West Bridgford is believed to have come from Flawford. It bore the following inscription:
Towards the end of the last century several gravestones were found to be covering a drain under Loughborough Road some distance south of the junction with Wilford Road, West Bridgford. These stones almost certainly came from Flawford, but there is no record of the inscriptions.
The most recent discovery of a missing stone occurred in 1979 when the occupier of No. 4 Easthorpe Cottages, in 1979, removed a slab in his back garden in order to fill in a suspected well, found the following inscription on the underside:
The right hand side of the stone is damaged, but it relates to James Harwood. No date or age is visible but the stone measures 2 feet 5 inches (0.75m) by 3 feet 7 inches (1.09m). This is the earliest dated headstone from Flawford so far discovered. This stone is now a pavement slab (with inscription uppermost) at the side of a house on the south side of Vicarage Lane.
Mid Bronze Age
Where to find the evidence
The Hermitage Museum