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 Many Tales to be Found in God's Little Acre. St. Peter's Church, Bratton Fleming

Try Virtual Tourism From Home: Graveyard Tales and the Like

The word ‘Staycation’ has taken on a whole new literal meaning right now. It really does mean 'staying at home' (rather than a holiday home). So why not get to know your neighbourhood like a visitor – without even going outside. You might discover something like this.

For example, a little intriguing web-surfing into the history of Bratton Fleming, the North Devon village where the My Favourite Holiday Cottages office is based - revealed some wonderful true tales including this this little beauty...

During the war, Bratton Fleming, like so many other remote villages, had a Home Guard Unit. Its Quartermaster was responsible for all its equipment which included a not inconsiderable amount of ordnance (explosives) on the off-chance that some local bridges needed to be dynamited to hold back the Panzers.

After the war, the Government ordered all Home Guard equipment to be returned (including all munitions and anything with the capacity to make a big bang). However, quite a lot of it was, apparently, never returned. There might be a time when, for example, a stick or two of dynamite would come in handy in a farming community where large holes and ditches are forever needing to be dug.

So, Bratton Fleming’s Home Guard Quartermaster hung on to a few sticks - just in case. After a year or two, it became apparent that the ordnance was becoming unstable and needed to be quietly disposed of. Of course, they couldn’t be returned to HM Government without questions being asked, so they needed to be buried somewhere without raising suspicion.

Now, here’s the exciting bit, The Quartermaster’s day job was the local gravedigger. This responsibility gave him a legitimate opportunity to dig deep holes for a valid reason. And so, for a few years (no one knows how many), the occasional grave in the village churchyard was dug a foot deeper to accommodate unwanted ordnance from dynamite to hand grenades. A layer of earth was scattered on top before the coffin was gently, oh, so gently, lowered in.

And it’s still there – mainly because when the news came out, nobody knew for sure where, the gravedigger himself having long since had his own grave dug, literally took his secret to the...well you get the rest.

If ever you decide to visit Bratton Fleming’s churchyard, tread carefully on the daisies as you walk between the graves. While there, discover the last (pre-war) resting place of little Timmy, tragically run over by a steam roller when playing truant from school, and an ex-Headmaster who had his grave sited to allow him to continue to watch over the school gates opposite.

In fact, for little safe exercising while in social isolation, a perusal of inscriptions on graves in your local churchyard or cemetery can reveal all sorts of fascinating historical anecdotes.

Go online as a virtual-tourist and spend an absorbing hour or two enriching your local knowledge – or indeed any other location that you intend one day to visit and explore to see what delicious secrets it holds.

If you uncover any other similarly intriguing tales - do email them to us - we'll be delighted to share them.