talk by Brian Wilcock reported by Bryan Pledger

In this illustrated talk the first question posed was why undertake these inscriptions and the answer is to publish for family history research and allow access by distant and overseas members.  An example of the value to historians can be found in the grave of the Beaver family that gives the details of over 57 members.  This grave also highlights a danger as research shows that many of the facts given are untrue.  Forgotten history can also be found such as for example the stone for the Abraham family also notes that one member was a Japanese prisoner of war.

Many of the memorials have artistic value such as the one in Highgate Cemetery for Paul Caulfield, a contemporary of David Hockney, that has the word “dead” spelled out in huge laser-cut letters on a six-foot slab of granite.  Also of note is the large memorial to Trooper Potts VC in Forbury Gardens, Reading.

MI’s are not conserved in any record office and many are deteriorating with recording the information being a race against time. Harriet and Jessie Silver in St Sebastian’s Churchyard for example has a good front but the stone is delaminating at the back and falling apart.  The grave of Robert Taylor Pritchard in St Mary’s Church, Burghfield was recorded but badgers have dug around the area and now it has completely disappeared.

Problems occur such as churches can be deconsecrated.  All Saint’s Shurlock Row is now a private house but photographs of the inside were taken for the record and St Peter’s Ufton Nervet is now a Community Centre but all the memorials inside were photographed and recorded.

Preparing memorial inscriptions starts with what data already exists.  BerksFHS has much unfinished and legacy material in a variety of formats and completed surveys in fiche, paper scanned and OCR formats and of course there are non-BerksFHS originals.

An example of the difficulties encountered is with fiche that are usually very small and once scanned even using 600dpi the resolution is very poor and can be impossible to read needing complete retyping from the original.

If there is nothing then we have to start from scratch.

Picture of Sandra Barkwith

Sandra Barkwith