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Dog uncovers lost grave
THE dog belonging to the curate of Tarrington, the Rev John Watkins, will help an Australian family to find its roots, thanks to the hound’s enthusiastic digging skills. During the 1960s at Tarrington’s parish church, many Georgian and Victorian gravestones were laid down flat to make mowing the churchyard easier.
Now, over the last 50 years, the grass has grown over them. When the Herefordshire Family History Society catalogued all the gravestones in the 1990s they remained hidden and currently there is no record of the memorials. But on a recent daily walk, George, Mr Watkin’s dog, started to burrow under the mossy grass.
He started uncovering a gravestone that had not been seen for a very long time. Churchwarden Janette Ward said: “The gravestone that young George uncovered was of a Richard Bowkett. “Some members of the family had recently come from Australia to search for their Tarrington roots.
“They went away disappointed not to find any gravestones. “They had discovered from records that Richard was a blind man and had not worked for many years. “As George uncovered the grave, the following words in the form of a poem appeared, – I was but a poor blind man... “We were amazed at how it all tied together and we are trying to contact the Australian family again. “We think that they will be thrilled by the discovery.” Mr Watkins said attempts were being made to reach the Australian Bowketts through Twitter.
The family left the parish a note of its researches, but their actual contact details have since been lost.
Mr Watkins said: “The man named on the tomb has an earlier spelling of the name – Boulchott, not Bowkett, but he was the father of a man who was sentenced to death for horse stealing.”
The sentence was commuted to transportation, and he made a new life in Tazmania, where he founded the Bowkett dynasty. The blind father he had to leave behind died in 1818, at the height of Regency England.
A churchyard day will be held on September 8, from 10am, and the hope is that the event will lead to the formation of a local history group in the village. Volunteers are being sought to look for more lost gravestones.
Mr Watkins said: “Think of the other wonderful stories waiting to be uncovered! “It’s a fascinating business.”
And following on from the churchyard day, the church hopes to hold an exhibition of village history in the spring of next year.