Finding Mary Bowden’s Grave

Katrine Smith at the site of Mary Bowden’s grave

Last Thursday I went up to the cemetery armed with a stake and a hammer ….. and before anyone says it, no I wasn’t vampire hunting – I also had a makeshift plaque and a tape-measure.

I was there to meet up with Katrine Smith, the Cemetery Officer from Teignbridge.  She came clutching two maps which were the plot maps from two areas of the cemetery marked as “F”.

We were in search of the unmarked grave of Mary Bowden, the first person to be buried in the cemetery on 4th February 1856.

It turned out I didn’t need the tape measure since Katrine was skilled in pacing the area and ‘feeling’ the ground to ascertain whether there was actually a grave at the spot we were standing on.  We meticulously cross-referenced the spot against nearby marked graves so that there could be a cross-check later, back at the office.

The improvised plaque


One hour later, SUCCESS!!  We were 99% certain that we had identified Mary Bowden’s grave and planted the stake and plaque in the ground there.  Katrine double-checked the records later and confirmed the location of plot F51.

A job well done.

It would be nice to mark the spot a little more ceremoniously in the future – perhaps with a special memorial plaque.


Adjacent grave of Henry Earl, Jane Earl and Thomas Finch


In the process we came across the adjacent grave which had been purchased 50 years after the original interment and with a headstone erected at that time – it looks like there might be an interesting story there for the future.




Cemetery Records

Last week I met with Katrine Smith, the Cemetery Officer for Teignbridge District Council.  She very kindly, and with great enthusiasm, showed me the records that are held on the Teignmouth Old Cemetery.

We looked at the fascinating old map of the burial plots and looked up the records of Leah Laforgue, the first person whose grave we cleared as part of this project.

We also identified the records of Mary Bowden, the first person to be buried in the cemetery on 4th February 1856 and is in an unmarked grave.

We are planning to find that grave!

I have posted details on the following pages: