'Mapping the Past'

Briefing on the day's work
Photo by Tony Mould
Co-ordinator Simon Bannister (1st right) in discussion with two volunteers
Photo by Tony Mould
Many of the inscriptions are very difficult to read
Photo by Tony Mould
A technique to capture the inscription
Photo by Tony Mould

On Saturday March 8th, the SNCGSA (St Nicholas Church Green Spaces Association) held the first of its new programme of heritage and local history events in the St Nicholas Rest Garden. Although the weather was poor, a good turnout ensured a positive and productive start toward the Association’s ‘Mapping the Past’ initiative.

Mapping the monuments
‘Mapping the Past’ is a joint initiative between SNCGSA and Brighton & Hove council which aims to improve the understanding of the St Nicholas Church Gardens as an important heritage site in the City. As the existing documentation and mapping of monuments is dated and incomplete, it is important to try to update these records, both to increase the enjoyment and value of the site generally, and to provide a resource for those engaged in family or local history research.  As we have no site plan for the Rest Gardens, our first task was to try to identify monuments from their (often illegible) inscriptions.

A plan for future work
Future tasks will include: continuing work to identify and locate monuments, creating a new site plan for the rest gardens, undertaking research on the lives and histories of those remembered and producing interpretation materials and a possible St Nicholas ‘Heritage trail’, and developing a Heritage Lottery bid to assist with the restoration and repair of key heritage features at the site. The workdays will also serve as ‘drop in’ sessions for anyone with questions relating to the monuments or those remembered which we may be able to assist in resolving.

Details: Simon Bannister simon.bannister@brighton-hove.gov.uk

Comments about this page

  • Mapping the Past – Testing the map
    Over the past few months, volunteers have been meeting at St Nicholas Rest Garden, deciphering monument inscriptions and plotting the locations of gravestones and tombs, working to create a contemporary site plan of this historic site.  This work is now complete and a working draft has been created and I would like to invite all of those who have contributed to this process, as well as anyone else who would be interested in the project, to come to the Rest Gardens on Saturday July 12th to help to test the map.  This will involve randomly picking a monument from the inscription records, locating it on the map and then finding it on site, and – in reverse – picking a monument on site, locating it on the map and finding its record in the inscriptions. With nearly 300 monuments recorded, it is important that we make sure that the map is as accurate as possible before placing it on public record.
    If you would like any further information about this event or this initiative, please contact me on 01273 293925 or email at simon.bannister@brighton-hove.gov.uk

    By Simon Bannister (16/06/2008)
  • As a child I can remember saving my farthings for The St Nicholas Farthing Fund, and going to the church to present our savings. I have no idea what the fund was for, but I have a quite clear memory of a service in St Nicholas when members of different Sunday Schools gave their farthings.

    By Marion Doyle (04/08/2011)
  • I am descended from William Jasper (b.1774) and Abigale Harman (b.1774), married 1796 at St.Nicholas. I would be interested to know if you have discovered any monumental inscriptions bearing these names. I now live in New Zealand and am not likely to visit Brighton myself. Regards

    By Brian Calder (16/12/2011)
  • A document containing all the St Nicholas MIs(recorded in the 1940/50s) is at: 


    By Geoffrey Barber (05/06/2014)
  • At a recent visit to The Keep (the new local history archive for Brighton & Hove and other places) I found that the missing site plans for the rest garden had been relocated – presumably as items were recovered from various storage locations to be brought together in the new archive centre. This is good news for anyone seeking to locate a monument listed in the inscription records as it hugely increases the chance of locating it.

    By Simon Bannister (12/01/2016)

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