Grave Matters in the Shires
Banburyshire Family History

A site designed for you to share your family history with others from the Banbury area

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St. James the Great, Claydon

The porch of Claydon church

The front gravestone is that of Annie Marie PARRITT and her husband, John Henry PARRITT. John Henry was the grandson of John Astell PARRITT, my great grandfather William's brother

How do I come to be interested in the Banburyshire area? Well my paternal grandfather, George PARRITT[1] was born in Claydon in 1872, and his family, (variously spelt), had been domiciled there for many years, and before that had been in Bodicote. His mother's family, the WYATTS, came from thereabouts, as did his ASTELL forebears.

So I have the liveliest interest in all matters pertaining to this region of England.

I'd had to be satisfied with interest from afar, until early in the year 2000, when from "out of the blue", my youngest son dropped the bombshell that he was taking me to England in April.


Interior of St. James the Great, Claydon

The interior at Claydon. Very simple but beautifully kept. There is a PREW memorial plaque to a son killed in Burma in WW2 on the left wall, but it doesn't feature in this shot. (His mother was a PARRITT)

The purpose of the trip was not to "do the tourist" things, but to meet up with surviving relatives and friends. You see, I had been away for 40 years and many were no longer alive. In just about all of the branches of my family I was getting to be "the grand old lady", so it was as well to meet up before it was too late.

I knew that I would have no time to go to records offices, but hoped to visit some of the graveyards. I like cemeteries, and will wander around gleaning valuable little gems of information, as long as my energy lasts out ---- and unfortunately it doesn't last as long these days!

The Nicholas Chamberlaine Almshouses, Bedworth

The Nicholas Chamberlaine Almshouses, Bedworth

Apart form their role in providing care for the elderly their attractive appearance and central placement in the town make them Bedworth's most important feature

Shortly after our arrival in Bedworth, well wrapped up, as it had turned glacial, my brother and I walked around part of the cemetery of All Saints Parish Church --- it was a veritable rabbit warren! My notebook soon had a few entries of peripherally related people, but nothing startling. When sleet set in we "called it a day" and retired to the Library, where with my brother's card I was able to take out several interesting books from their local history section. After that we rejoined the others for a welcome hot coffee.

Next day my brother drove us down into Oxfordshire. We went via Warwick, avoiding the motorway and enjoyed the drive through the countryside where Spring was struggling to burst forth!

We arrived at Cropredy and had a most agreeable break for coffee and cake at the "Green Scene", a cafe-cum-gift shop. The coffee was good and the cakes ---- thoughts of diet fled out of the window!!!

In the churchyard I found a William WYATT grave, but not having enough information to go on, then, I didn't know whether he was related to "my" WYATTS. (In the last week or so I have learnt that I have a 2x great grandfather William WYATT --- there could be a link there!).

On to Claydon, which was the main focus of our day.

St. James the Great stood high above the road, surrounded by its graveyard. On this particular day a rather bleak spot. Inside it was austere and so cold that it could've doubled as a morgue or deep freeze! It lacked the ornamentation and furnishings that noble patronage would have brought, but it had a quiet dignity. I could imagine the wedding of my Great-grandparents, there, a simple ceremony no doubt, due to the bride's condition; many baptisms at the font, too. I found a plaque on the wall commemorating a PREW son who died in Burma in 1945.

St. John the Baptist, Bodicote

St. John the Baptist, Bodicote

This photo conveys the general warm ambience of the church. It went some way to mitigate those unfriendly briars and nettles!

Outside, we moved briskly, to keep warm, with my brother and son armed with a list of likely names. Perhaps, in this way I missed out on some of significance, but we did find PARRITT, ASTELL and PREW headstones.

From there we went into the village and my son was delighted to be able to reach up to touch some "real thatch". We went around "Bygones" a museum, which has a wonderful collection of agricultural implements, and other memorabilia. I marvelled that our ancestors had the strength to handle these large, heavy implements when so ill-nourished, clothed and housed. My respect for them grew by leaps and bounds.

Next we drove down to Bodicote, the other side of Banbury, and the contrast was immediate.

Inside, St. John the Baptist, was warm and attractive, and had beautiful stained glass windows. As we looked around we were approached by a friendly woman, the vicar's wife.

We soon found out that her husband was on an exchange pastorate from Australia. Forebears were forgotten as we chatted, as she was delighted to find that we were from the Antipodes too. Those of you who have travelled will know the thrill of meeting up with someone from your locale ---- after all Aussie is only across the Tasman Sea!

Then it was out to the graveyard, which was disappointing. No finds here, in what we could decipher, but I was attacked by a low briar as I wandered vaguely with my eyes on the tombstones, and an unfriendly stinging nettle "bit" me! Stumbling over uneven ground I suddenly realised that the humps were unmarked graves. Oh horror --- I've always tried to treat them more respectfully!

Back into the car, with nothing new in my notebook, but with a photograph or two, we headed for Wroxton.

As we drew up outside the churchyard we looked at the very weather-worn stones with dismay. Too tired to face a further period trying to decipher them we raised mute eyebrows! The consensus was to head for home!

George PARRITT - PARRITT Beginnings

Contributed by Muriel Wells
Email: pollyp(@)
To contact Muriel Wells, copy and paste the address and remove the brackets around the @ - thank you.