Woodford Halse Archive

St Mary’s Edward Thorold Gravestone
St Mary’s Edward Thorold Gravestone

Woodford Buildings

St Mary’s

There are four tombstones that should be mentioned, the first is of William Davis, a young man of 22, buried 21th August, 1864. His gravestone records that he was killed by the explosion of an engine boiler at Camden Station on the North London Railway. Unemployment was prevalent in the village in those days and it could well be, that he left home to better himself and instead, lost his life, so Woodford people would learn of the dangers of railway work long before the coming of the Great Central Railway. It is now very difficult to read the inscription, the stone having weathered very badly.

In the south-east corner of the churchyard, close to the Village Centre, a flat stone marks the grave of the Reverend Richard Walter and four of his daughters, Mary Ann, an infant, on 5th June, 1828. Mary Sophia, aged 19, on 26th October, 1842, Susanna, aged 18, on 26th October, 1849 and Charlotte, aged 19, on 30th September 1850. Richard Walter came to Woodford as curate in 1823 and was made vicar on 16th September, 1846 on the death of the Reverend Walter Shirley, who had been vicar since 1814, though absent from the parish. There is a tradition in the parish that he fought at the battle of Trafalgar, but it was not until 1985 that the tradition was confirmed when attention was drawn to the biography of Sir William Napier, which on pages 230 and 231 quotes a letter from Major-General William Napier to Lord Cottenham, 27th July, 1846, then Lord Chancellor, advocating the Reverend Richard Walter for the vacant vicarage. In the letter he says that “He was wounded, being then a lieutenant, at the battle of Trafalgar;” Other than this there appears to be no confirmation of the tradition.

The third stone is that of Edward Heyford Thorold, son of the Bishop of Rochester, he died of scarlet fever in 1871 and was buried on 18th February. He was a pupil of the Reverend H.H. Minchin, the then vicar and tradition has it that he died of yellow fever, bubonic plague or something exotic. It is a reminder that in the old days some parsons took in students, getting them ready to enter university, a curate would do their pastoral work in the parish.

By kind permission of Woodford Halse Archive