Wiltshire Publications

Neglected Quaker graveyard reveals a piece of local history

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 13th, 2018 at 11:47 am.

PLANS by Westbury Leos, the youth section of Westbury Lions, to tidy the 300-year-old Quaker burial ground in the town has led to the discovery of some long-forgotten history about the founder of Matravers School.

Research into the burial ground, which is located behind solicitors Pinniger Finch & Co, has revealed that John Matravers who left £1,000 in his will to set up the school, is buried on the site.

Member of the Westbury Lions, Mike Pearce said, “The Leos came to us wanting ideas for a project that they could get involved in. So we identified that this area could do with a tidy up as it has been left for many years and is a real mess.

“Once we started researching the history of the site with the help of local historian Sally Hendry, we started to discover some really interesting stories.”

Revealing the history of the Quaker burial ground, Sally Hendry from the Heritage Society said, “The area has been untouched for many years. Research shows it was probably first used in 1720 for the burial of John Matravers; it was then in existence for almost a century, with the last recorded burial of another John Matravers in 1814.

“Of the 17 burials I have researched so far, all but three were members of the Matravers family.

“The Matravers family were an important Westbury family and were mill owners. They were also important in helping the town, for example the will of John Matravers, who died in 1814, left £1,000 for the formation of a free school for Westbury boys and girls, so his name lives on in our current school.

“I am so pleased work is to start on restoring this special piece of Westbury history. The Matravers name is a significant part of our town’s heritage and as such, should be recognised.”

The Westbury Leos will be joined by students from Matravers School on Saturday 24th February to tidy and restore the area.

If you have any information about the Quaker burial ground, Sally would like to hear from you. She can be contacted at sjbh52@icloud.com or on 01373 229981.

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