New plaque remembers those who served at the Priory while it was a religious order

Diary posted

7th September 2016

Saint Augustine’s Priory Graves 1861 – 1983

The new vitreous enamel plaque installed on the wall in the Priory graveyard records the names of the nuns who lived and died at the Priory over the 122-year period that it was a religious order. There are about as many names as this number of years and they also include a few priests and some secular people who worked on the estate.

The small graveyard where all these people are buried still belongs to the Catholic Church, which dutifully maintains it. The names written on the simple iron and wooden crosses marking the graves are today barely legible and this prompted me to make a permanent record of the graves for posterity.

The most appropriate material to choose was vitreous enamel on steel because it will weather well (like the pre-war enamels advertising such things as Colman’s Mustard for example).

First we had a fund-raising event where I gave a talk about enamel painting. Then I worked with Sister Benignus to accurately research names, dates and ages of the deceased.

Finally I worked with a graphic designer to prepare artwork for screen-printing by an enamel company I have worked with before. The cut and shaped steel was sprayed with liquid enamel and dried before firing in a kiln at about eight hundred degrees centigrade. Several coats of enamel were fused to the steel prior to screen-printing the blue and white detail in one further hot firing.

The result is a blue plaque similar to the heritage signs one sees in London. We hope this will provide a reference for any families of the nuns and others to show their last resting place.

What’s more Father Costello, our local Roman Catholic priest, came to bless our little chapel, which sits adjacent to the graveyard, and dedicated the plaque to the memory of those who served at the Priory while he was there.

The graveyard is a serene area, particularly beautiful at Springtime with snowdrops and primroses.

Gillie Byrom (Priory resident)