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Graveside memorials are unearthed online

PUBLISHED: 10:00 25 February 2010 | UPDATED: 17:37 25 August 2010

UNREADABLE: Many of the inscriptions on gravestones at the church have weathered away

UNREADABLE: Many of the inscriptions on gravestones at the church have weathered away

THE lost memorials of thousands of residents – including the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated – can be seen on the internet for the first time. Memorial Inscriptions (MI) on gravestone, tablets, tombs and monuments of Charlton residents c

THE 'lost memorials' of thousands of residents - including the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated - can be seen on the internet for the first time.

Memorial Inscriptions (MI) on gravestone, tablets, tombs and monuments of Charlton residents can be accessed through the Kent Archaeological Society website.

It follows a similar inclusion of Bromley residents added to the website last month, to allow people interested in genealogy to access information worldwide.

The records at St Luke's parish church, Charlton, were originally published in 1908 by Leonard Morgan May in a book that is now a collector's item.

Perhaps Charlton's most famous MI is the one commemorating The Right Hon. Spencer Perceval.

He is the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated, with records stating the murder was a "terrible death by the hand of a madman in the very midst of all his labours for his country's good plunged all England into mourning". He was shot dead by John Bellingham on May 11, 1812, in the lobby of the House of Commons.

Ted Connell, who runs the KAS website, said: "The real value of MIs is that not only do they tell us about people who are buried in our graveyards, they often provide details of people who once lived in the parish but were buried abroad - sometimes at sea."

Despite the extensive work he said experts are hampered by damaged or inscriptions eroded over time.

He explained that gravestones are only the "tip of the iceberg" of churchyard burials and church registers, often dating back to the 16th century, were incomplete.

Mr Connell added: "Many graves were marked with wooden rails that lasted only a few generations. Stone gravestones often weather badly and become illegible. And, of course, many of the people buried were from poor families who could not afford a gravestone."

Other interesting inscriptions include those John Stuart Peddie, Surgeon, who died while serving with Captain John Franklin on his ill-fated attempt to navigate the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic.

l Find out more at www.kentarchaelogy.org.uk/research


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