This blog post from one of our Archaeology in the City volunteers, Ashley Magana.
Ashley has written about her experience on the Tinsley project, having spent four months helping with the project during her time at the University of Sheffield.
St. Lawrence Church has 800 years of history. Tinsley was even mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086; however, it was known by its Anglo-Saxon name, Tirneslawe (St. Lawrence Tinsley 2001, 2). Its entry in the Doomsday Book of 1086 reads as follows (St. Lawrence Tinsley 2001, 2): “Three manors. In Tirneslawe, Ulchel, Agemund, and Archil, had five carucates of land to be taxed where there may be four ploughs. Roger now has there one villein and threesocmen, with one plough, and one and eight quarentens broad. Worth 4 [pounds]”.
King Stephen, grandson of William the Conqueror, had seized Tinsley and ended up passing it onto a man called Mairolls, also known as the De Londons, the early Lords of Tinsley, who founded the Norman Chapel of Saint Lawrence in the 12th Century (St. Lawrence Tinsley 2001, 3). Tinsley was later passed onto Roger le Bret and then onto the Wentworths (St. Lawrence Tinsley 2001, 3).
The churchyard’s oldest grave dates to 1711 and is situated just East of the South porch of the church (St. Lawrence Tinsley 2001, 25); however, there may be graves that date back to the Norman Conquest, but has to be uncovered. It should also be noted that apparently there is a crypt underneath the church that no one knows who is in it, or the date of it.
The churchyard was extended and had doubled than its previous area in 1915 (St. Lawrence Tinsley 2001, 25). According to the Vicar, there are “approximately” 2,2000 full size graves (not including the plots cremated remains). However, when the surveying took place, it was discovered that some graves that were not on the graveyard’s plan.
The parish records are held in two forms. The first is record book that dates from 1711, and has record on baptisms, marriages, and burials. The second are index card boxes that date from 1784, and has records on baptisms and burials, but not marriages—marriages were to be recorded separately from 1754 (St. Lawrence Tinsley 2001, 26).
About the Project
There were two aims for this project. The first aim was to create a digitised system that contained the graveyard records and information from the churchyard plan, record books, and index card’s records. The second aim was to create a recording sheet for the gravestones and then digitise that information. The objective was to create an information system that could easily be accessed by church members, the community, or those who may want to conduct research either for professional or genealogy purposes.
It should be noted that the records were not easily accessible because of the frailty of the materials and a somewhat tedious request had to be made. Those involved in the project, including myself, and under the direction of Sally Rodgers, had to transfer the information on the index card boxes to an excel document. Once that was completed, we then surveyed the graveyard and recorded the condition and inscriptions of the gravestones. As of today, all information collected has been digistised and will soon be available for public use online.
I worked on the Tinsley graveyard project for about four months, and within that time I learned about the importance of preservation for community “landmarks” and how these types of projects contribute to genealogy research. I also gained skills that I could use for future preservation projects, more so if I decide to undertake a project of my own. When I partook in the occasional coffee/tea time, stories were often shared, which made it evident that this project would help to preserve their histories (to an extent) for years to come.
I felt very fortunate to be part of this project and it was pleasure getting to know those from the St. Lawrence Church.