At the southern end of the main carriageway, on the western side, is an area that has always been a puzzle for FoSOC. There were very few grave markers visible, only a few around the edges, yet it was known that many burials had taken place there over the years. It was thought that, perhaps, the absence of markers was due to enemy action during the Second World War……hence the name the ‘Blitz area’. The cemetery was hit seven times during WW2.
Tim and Nick both, FoSOC’s dedicated volunteers has recently given attention to this area with strimmer, and the removal of the overgrowth and surprising, wonderful, results have emerged. Tim and Nick were very careful and did not cause any damage to any grave markers. As our photos show, there are many headstones there, but they have mostly been laid flat, face upwards.
We understand that this could have come about as part of a trial memorial scheme instituted in the late 1960s that was to involve burying head, and kerb, stones in situ. However, soon after the authorisation, it was discontinued due to lack of funding. It seems, however, that while quite a few headstones were laid down, they were not actually buried as the Hampshire Genealogical Society (HGS) were able to read, and record, the inscriptions on these stones, over 120 in this area before the area became overgrown. It is evident that the work of laying down the stones was done very carefully as hardly any are broken. Eventually, HGS recorded all the inscriptions, they could see, in the Old Cemetery between 1977 and 1994.
University of Southampton are very interested in this project and will be helping FoSOC by using Ground Penetrating Radar equipment …hopefully, more headstones to be found ?!?
The discoveries provide further material for our Guides on our regular FoSOC cemetery walks that are available for groups. Our public cemetery walks will begin again in April 2022….all walks will be on the website fosoc.org. Booking will still be advisable.