The purpose of this website is to make available for public use most of the information gathered over the last few years about St. Mary's Church, Donnington, near Ledbury in Herefordshire. The impetus to create the site came from the determination of the Parochial Church Council to improve their knowledge of the location, identification and occupation of graves in the churchyard. This has led to a number of related initiatives.
Transcripts of Donnington Parish Registers
The lists of baptisms, marriages, banns and burials below have been derived from transcripts of various parish registers and other sources. It has been felt useful to record the sources and parish history to minimise confusion.
In carrying out transcription, a useful page of Ledbury Births was found.
All burial entries in the Donnington parish registers from 1765 to 2020 have been transcribed together with burial entries clearly relevant to Donnington but entered in the parish registers of Dymock and Ledbury between 1556 and 1765. Please see Donnington Burials for the transcript.
All baptism entries in the Donnington parish registers from 1754 to 1986 have been transcribed and, again, relevant entries from Ledbury and adjacent parish registers between 1556 and 1754 have been included. However, for privacy reasons, publication on the web has been confined to those baptisms performed before 1920. Please see Donnington Baptisms for the transcript.
All banns in the Donnington parish registers from 1754 to 1828 have been transcribed and augmented by a few relevant banns from the Dymock and Ledbury registers (and one from Much Marcle). Please see Donnington Banns for the transcript.
All marriage entries in the Donnington parish registers from 1754 to 1986 have been transcribed together with relevant entries from Ledbury and adjacent parish registers between 1669 and 1754. However, for privacy reasons, publication on the web has been confined to those marriages performed before 1920.
Note that different reporting standards applied to church marriage registers at different periods covering which items of information had to be included. Please see Donnington Marriages.
Transcript of Memorial Inscriptions
Almost all the memorial inscriptions had already been transcribed by Rosemary Lockie and the transcripts are available from: Wishful Thinking. The process of mapping the churchyard and identifying the graves has produced a few more inscriptions and the complete set is now available and cross-referenced to grave numbers, burial dates and names on this site (see "Locating a Grave" below).
Mapping the Churchyard
To aid the mapping process, the churchyard has been divided into Sections A to E as shown in the diagram opposite. [To obtain a larger and more detailed image of the section diagram just click on the diagram and use your browser to zoom in or out of the resulting image.]
Graves have been numbered fairly arbitrarily within these sections and there is no additional information imparted in the number (e. g., placement, age etc.). The combination of section and number provides a unique grave reference (e.g. the grave referenced as E01 is the first grave to be numbered in section E) and has been used to link graves with names, burial dates etc., in the grave indexes (see below).
There are many burials recorded in the registers for which we have no indication of burial site. In addition we have some areas of the churchyard which clearly contain graves although there are no visible gravestones or markers. These graves have not yet been identified and additional numbers will be assigned if and when further identification takes place. Some grave references have been assigned to grave markers or stones which possibly do not denote graves and these are, therefore, not associated with a name.
The sections have been mapped in great detail on paper but the paper maps are much too big to present on this website. A more detailed churchyard map has been provided for users to download and examine at leasure and at whatever magnification is convenient.
Locating a Grave
All the information we have about a grave has been provided in a grave reference page which is ordered by grave reference. Each entry in the grave reference page contains the:
memorial inscription (if readable),
date of burial of each relevant name (from the burial register where available),
surname(s) and forename(s).
Clicking on the grave reference in an entry on the grave reference page displays a photograph of the grave.
There are several ways to access the data we have gathered about a grave.
- Browse the grave reference page
Browse the complete grave reference page sequentially in grave reference order.
- Select via the grave map
The grave map has been provided which can used to locate a specific grave accurately and select its entry in the grave reference page.
Note that this map is very large and will require the viewer to use the browser's scroll bars to locate the relevant section of the map. On this map, each individual grave is marked with their grave reference and clicking on a grave reference will select its entry in the grave reference page.
- By surname, date or grave reference
It is expected that users seeking a specific grave will have a name for which they are looking, or possibly a date range.
The grave references have been indexed for this purpose in
date order, and
To use these indexes, users can find a grave as follows:
- click on one of the three indexes above,
- scan through the index to find the entry of interest,
- click on the grave reference which is highlighted on the index entry.
This will transfer the user to the entry for that specific grave on the grave reference page. The indexes additionally provide an indication, from the burial registers, of whether or not the burial was of ashes following a cremation.
Missing or Erroneous Grave Data
The grave references and their indexes have been created from the transcribed burial registers augmented by evidence from memorial inscriptions. Where a name exists on an index but the grave reference is blank, it means that we have evidence from an entry in the burial registers that a person was buried in the churchyard, but no evidence for the location of the relevant grave. Such entries are restricted to those in the post-1754 Donnington burial registers.
If the burial date is missing it means the person has been named on a memorial inscription but there is no corresponding entry in the burial registers. This is usually because the person was buried elsewhere and not in Donnington churchyard.
However, despite attempts to ensure the data is accurate, the processes involved are prone to error and it's quite likely there are some mistakes. I would therefore be grateful if users who are aware of a mistake and know how to correct the information would contact me with their correction (see below).
Rectors of Donnington
The Parochial Church Council were also keen to identify an accurate and fairly complete list of those appointed to the Donnington Rectory. The list of Donnington Rectors has been obtained from the published Registers of the Bishops of Hereford ("Registrum Herefordensis"). Although there are gaps, these registers are available from about 1200 up to 1900 and have been used to extract the names of those presented for appointment, as well as their patrons, the previous appointee, and the reason for the vacancy (where available).
It's worth noting that many of the published Bishops' registers were translated and transcribed for printing by Canon Arthur Thomas Bannister, a noted diocesan historian who is buried in Donnington churchyard.
Seats and the Font
The earliest register (1754 - 1812) includes a separate page documenting the provision of seats or pews in 1796. It was probably written soon after the event and it provides a glimpse of parish practice and personalities. It records which seats or pews were provided, who provided or funded them and was permitted to sit in them. The list of seats and owners is provided as a transcript of the 1796 page.
Early in the tenure of Roger Bird as Rector of Donnington, his son was baptised in the church. It's clear from his notes of the baptism that he was disatisfied with the previous arrangement for baptism and brought a stone font from Rugby. He records his actions as follows: "The font on this occasion was brought from Rugby in Warwickshire having been for many years in use in that parish until its place was occupied by the more suitable one presented by Mr Bloram Esq. It is now lent to the parish of Donnington until as is to be wished they supply themselves with one corresponding with the architecture of the church - the owner thinking it unworthy to be an offering to the church but still more becoming than the blue basin hither in use.".
Eric Gethyn-Jones, Rector of Donnington, 1957-1967, deposited a number of items of historical interest to Donnington in Gloucestershire Record Office (see sources for details).
A modern history of Donnington church was published as a printed leaflet in 1997, but in producing this website it was decided to bring the leaflet up to date and translate it to the web. The Church History is available here.
One of the more famous Rectors of Donninghton was the Reverend John Lander, Rector between 1845-1890. Hugh Mason, on behalf of descendents of Revd John Lander, has generously provided copies of a number of photographs from the family collection, together with permission to publish them on this website. The Lander photographs can be seen here.
I strongly recommend Dave Powell's website which provides excellent photographs of the architecture and surroundings of St. Mary's church, Donnington. He also provides details and more photographs of all the churches in the Leadon Vale Benefice, of which Donnington is now a part.
Corrections and Comments
I welcome corrections to errors in the church data and mistakes I've made in putting it together, and additional data which readers wish to contribute. To do so, please use my contact details.
I'm deeply grateful to Forest of Dean Family History for permission to include Donnington baptism, marriage and burial entries from their transcripts of the parish registers of Bromsberrow, Dymock, Preston and Kempley.
The current Donnington parish burial register, covering burials from 1990 to 2005 and held in the church, was kindly released to me for transcription by the churchwarden, David Powell, and with the permission of the rector at the time, Patricia Phillips.
Recent parish register data and excellent photographs have been very kindly and helpfully provided by the churchwarden, David Powell.
It would not have been possible to produce this website without the help and support of the Parochial Church Council, particularly Jennie Davies, Fiona Dean, David Powell and Robert Daniels. But most of all, it couldn't have been done without Rosemary Lockie.Return to top of page