St Leonard’s is a beautiful church in a beautiful place, standing high above the Cinque Port of Hythe. Built in the thirteenth century when the town was home to prosperous merchants and seamen, it still receives thousands of visitors a year, many coming to visit its extraordinary ossuary, one of only two in England.
For over nine hundred years it has been a place of pilgrimage and worship, and its graveyard has been in use for all that time, although it was closed for burials during the 1950 after being extended several times. While helping out in a small way with some tidying and clearing at the churchyard, I became interested in the gravestones: who were the people who rested here? Sadly, some gravestone inscriptions are already illegible and others showed wear and tear.
I decided to record all the inscriptions which were still legible, and, while I was at it, to research each of the names. Later in the project I was joined by Kathryne and Christopher. There are 750 stones in total. What will follow are the stories of some of the people buried in this peaceful place.