Sutton Bonington St Michael


The eastern side of the
churchyard from the tower

The churchyard is rectangular with the church offset towards the west side. There is a car parking area to the west which fronts Main Street. The boundaries mainly comprise brick and stone walls, and other buildings. There are evidently burials on all sides though grave markers have been removed.

In 1899 the Parish Council asked for an inquiry into the condition of St Michael’s churchyard. The Parish Council thought that the burial ground was full but the rector, churchwarden, and sexton disputed this. Dr Hofman, an inspector from the Home Office, after hearing evidence from all parties, eventually advised that the churchyard should be closed with a lenient Order in Council allowing exceptions, and he gave examples of these. The churchyard was closed in 1927 and in around 1964 all the undamaged and legible memorial stones were removed and arranged around the walls and the banks, there are also stones and some graves at the top of the churchyard under the trees. The broken stones were buried in the churchyard. Canon Bryan, who was Rector at the time, visited the site every day. All the work was done respectfully and nothing was removed from the site. In 1965 the Parish Council took over responsibility for mowing the churchyard and maintaining the boundary walls.

Sir Ernest Paget donated a piece of land on Marle Pit Hill, next to the railway line, which is still in use today as a burial ground. Although locally known as the cemetery, it is actually St Michael’s churchyard extension. In 1904 George White was appointed caretaker of the new ground at £6 10s per annum, to be paid quarterly. Lady Sophia Paget was the first person to be buried there in 1913 although, according to the Burial Register, the first burial was Private Arthur Clough in October 1918. There are two war graves in the Extension. They are both for British soldiers who were guards at the nearby Prisoner of War camp at what is now the University of Nottingham Sutton Bonington Campus. The first is Private Arthur Clough who died from the influenza epidemic in October 1918 and the second is Private Joseph Thomas who also served under the name of Hart. Joseph Thomas died in November 1918 of gunshot wounds, noted as suicide in his army records. The graves are marked with the traditional white Portland Stone headstones of the Commonwealth Graves Commission and in March 1926 the Parish Council signed an agreement to maintain the graves. The Parish Council and the Parochial Church Council now share the costs of maintaining the Churchyard Extension.

The churchyard extension was surveyed in May 2005 by Survey 3, Beeston, Nottingham, at a cost of £440. In 2008 a plan was made of all the marked graves in the extension and all the memorial stones in the original churchyard. This is kept in St Michael’s safe and can be seen on request. There is no plan to show the unmarked graves of which, according to the Burial Register, there are many.

At the east end of the north side of the church, steps lead down to an underground boiler house, built in 1898 at the expense of Sir Ernest Paget of the Hall. Originally a solid fuel boiler heated the water pipes. Flooding was a constant problem until a well was dug under the church (see Fittings). A gas boiler was installed in 1967 and replaced in 2007 by two Keston gas condensing boilers.

There are three chest tombs remaining in St Michael’s churchyard. Near to the south door, there is an altar tomb inscribed 'Mr BACON’S FAMILY VAULT MDCCCXLIX' (1849).

At the east end of the churchyard, under the trees there is a chest tomb which bears the Paget family crest and reads 'Sacred to the memory of George Byng Paget, born 15 September 1809. Died 25 January 1858. Also of Sophia Mary, his wife born Oct 20 1810 died Jan 29 1896. In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.'

There is a second chest tomb which reads 'In affectionate remembrance of James YEARSLEY MD of 15 Saville Row London who fell asleep July 9th 1869 aged 64 years. Requiescat in pace. Also in loving memory of Hannah Eliza widow of James Yearsley who departed this life October 3 1879. Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning. Also of Rose Frances Minnie, second daughter of Ralph Owen Yearsley Rector of this parish. Born June 23rd 1879. Died April 29th 1885'. Dr  James Yearsley, MD, MRCS, LRCP, father of Ralph Owen Yearsley, Rector of St Michael’s, founded the Metropolitan Ear Institute at 32 Sackville St, Piccadilly and assisted in developing a new understanding  of aural surgery.

The Rev Joseph Taberer is remembered in a grave with the base of a chest tomb but a horizontal slate slab which reads: 'Erected to the memory of the Revd Joseph Taberer who died the 20th day of July 1814. During the short period of his labours in the church of God on earth, he evinced an ardent zeal in the cause of his Saviour and an affectionate solicitude for the true interests of men. These united to superior intellectual endowments promised to render him an eminent servant of God when he was suddenly called after a short illness to join the church of the redeemer in Heaven'. His death was announced in the Leicester Journal, 22 July 1814 'DIED: On Wednesday last, at Sutton Bonington, in the county of Nottingham, sincerely regretted by all who knew him, the Rev Joseph Tabberer M.A. aged 23'.