Georgians in Stone Heritage Lottery Project

Read more about the Georgians in Stone project here:

A series of videos about the conservation project and connected history and research can be viewed here:

These include the conservation, history, costumes, songs, dancing and celebrations.


Trail booklets are available from Bishop’s Castle Church or Bishop’s Castle Town Hall.

Adult’s Trail and Map

Children’s Trail and Map


We finally celebrated the finish of the Lottery funded Project on Saturday 15th May, not with the party in the Churchyard that we had hoped, but a virtual party under Covid restrictions.  I hope though, that if you were one of the registered 113 screens, you will agree that it was a very, varied and enjoyable programme and showcased the present community of Bishop’s Castle as well as celebrating its Georgian past.   Luckily as this is now on film there will be a permanent legacy under the protection of the Bishop’s Castle Heritage Resource Centre, alongside the acres of research around our Georgian past which is still ongoing.  Our thanks also go to John Kirkpatrick who composed special songs for us and brought in singers from all around which were a highlight of the Celebration and I am sure will be reprised – another Legacy of the Project.

The PCC have appreciated all the support that we have received since the Churchyard Sub-Committee was formed in 2016. However, I would like to mention especially the Bishop’s Castle Heritage Forum who first supported this Project which includes the South West Shropshire Historical and Archaeological Society. They contributed both to the Celebration and the previous History Day, giving us an insight into the dubious Georgian election practices.  Also the Town Council who financially supported the History Day and the Celebration, the Georgian Group who contributed to the conservation of the African’s Grave (one of the 12 Grade II listed monuments now conserved by Elliott Ryder Conservation) and helped to show that our Town was sympathetic to the abolition of slavery.  Thanks also go to Sue Cooper, who secured the Lottery funding and continued to publicise the Project for much longer than we ever thought, and Thomasina Carlyle our Events Manager and her Team for taking a deep breath, re-organizing the Celebration and giving us an evening of fun to remember.  We would also like to thank CfGA who have been our Project Managers and continue to manage the Churchyard for nature.  Lastly thanks are due to Rev Stephanie, Chair of the PCC, Roger , Church Treasurer and Martin who has been helping with the Project, for all their support in so many ways over the last nearly 5 years.

Valerie Hughes

Chair, Churchyard Sub-Committee

PCC St John the Baptist, Bishop’s Castle

Gis final poster (2)

A Georgian celebration is being held online on Saturday May 15th to mark the close of a grant funded project to restore the unique Georgian tombs found in St John the Baptist Church Bishops Castle Churchyard. The event is free and the line up includes music from John Kirkpatrick MBE, Castle Carols and Friends, Noxwode Baroque Ensemble, Hallelujah chorus with The Marches Choir and Friends and an election drama of 1820 from South West Shropshire Historical and Archaeological Society.

John Kirkpatrick was commissioned to create and arrange some original songs for this project inspired by the Georgian era and stories behind the headstones. The words and scores for these songs are included in the songbook on Castle Carol’s website for anybody who would like to join in the singing at the event  and click on Georgians in Stone to access the words, music, and recordings of how they sound.  As well as John’s songs there will be a Handel Flute duet by Philippa Whitaker and Chris Lacey accompanied by Richard Silk on harpsichord, baroque dance, Bach violin and harpsichord from Noxwode with Conor Gricmanis. The line up also includes a Georgian costume exhibition, comic Georgian antics and a virtual tour of the churchyard by the town guides.

In addition to entertaining music and drama online from 4pm to 7.30 there will be an opportunity for families to collect craft activity bags from the church porch from 11am – activities include making a tricorn hat, decorating a fan and taking part in an art trail with your family. Event Co-ordinator Thomasina Carlyle explains “We have a great line up packed with some beautiful and entertaining music and drama and there will be Georgian inspired food for sale at The Happy Bap for people to buy on the day to eat in the interval while watching from home”.

Covid guidelines have led to the celebration being moved from a live event to online but the organisers are confident that the combination of watching performances on screen and being able to take part in singing and real-life crafts, to buy Georgian food from The Happy Bap and Georgian inspired ceramics created by Pretender to the Throne at the Poetry Pharmacy will bring an enriched Georgian flavour to the celebratory experience.

People can take part in learning John Kirkpatrick songs for the day by following links on or just reserve a place to kick back and watch by e mailing Full details of the line up to be posted on Facebook @GeorgiansInStone

The project is funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and Bishops Castle Town Council and is also supported by The Georgian Group and Caring for God’s Acre. Thanks to all who play the National Lottery for your generous support.              

Saturday 20th March  Georgians in Stone History Day

(9.30am Registration) 10am – 4pm

now via Zoom

For full details, including how to register a place, via Caring for God’s Acre go to .

The programme includes four lectures:

Sue Cooper MBE

How well do you know your Churchyard?

Prof Harold Mytum, Prof of Archaeology M.A. D.Phil. F.S.A. University of Liverpool.

Beyond Names and Dates: Why Graveyard Memorials are so important.

David Preshous OBE

Georgian politics and Rotten Boroughs.

Gareth Williams M.A. Curator & Head of Learning to the Weston Park Foundation.

Landlocked Shropshire’s Portal on Plantations: Shropshire’s great houses. An insight into the unlikely links to the Slave Trade and the Abolition Movement.

Finally save the date!

Final Celebration Event 15th May,

20th January 2021  Bishop’s Castle Churchyard begins to reveal its newly conserved Georgian tombs

In Bishop’s Castle churchyard the National Lottery Heritage Funded ‘Georgians in Stone Project’ is well under way with the conservation of twelve Georgian listed (Grade II) tombs nearing completion and interpretive notice board and leaflets soon to become available.  The Project, which is being managed by Caring for God’s Acre for the Parochial Church Council (PCC) of St John the Baptist church will support tourism in the town and explain the new ‘Georgian Churchyard Trail’ to visitors and residents. Local Town guides have been trained to provide further information on the Georgian tombs and the stories of the people they commemorate.

Conservators from Elliott Ryder Conservation working on the tombs have said ‘We are coming to the end of the satisfying but detailed and difficult work of conserving the stone tombs which are all Historic England Grade II listed. One of the most notable memorials to be conserved commemorates an African…. read more here

Georgians in Stone update Jan 2021


A drop in session took place at Bishops Castle Heritage Resource Centre on Saturday 12th October to reveal  research carried out into eleven listed Georgian Memorials in the churchyard.  This was an ideal opportunity for anyone wanting to pick up some research tips and find out how the project is discovering the stories of these special stones and the background story of Georgian Bishop’s Castle.

Bishop’s Castle Heritage Resource Centre researchers shared interesting information discovered after initial research on the Georgian gravestones and the people they commemorate.  There were display panels, a number of reference source files and information on screen, with researchers available throughout the day to talk to visitors.

The event was part of the Beautiful Burial Ground Project, an initiative of the conservation charity Caring for God’s Acre (CfGA), funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  The Beautiful Burial Ground project inspires and supports people to find out more about the heritage, social history and biodiversity of their local burial grounds.

The Open Day was a contribution from CfGA to Bishop’s Castle’s own National Lottery Heritage funded ‘Georgians in Stone Project’, which will conserve the grade 11 listed Georgian tombs in St John the Baptist churchyard and interpret them to local people and visitors through a variety of activities including a special celebration event, a Georgian one-day seminar and a Georgian songs project.

Bishop’s Castle, a vibrant and lively town during the Georgian Period 1714 to 1831 had the reputation as a ‘Rotten Borough’. It also housed Napoleonic prisoners of war, one of whom married a local girl, their son eventually went to New Zealand and married a Maori Princess. This and other fascinating stories including that of the African’s Grave are being further researched and celebrated through the National Lottery Heritage funded Georgians in Stone Project.

Open DayThe June edition of the Deanery magazine reported on the news of Bishop’s Castle Parochial Church Council (PCC) having received an award of £62,500 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for their ‘Georgians in Stone’ Project.
Behind the scenes serious project planning is well under way. PCC member Valerie Hughes, project co-ordinator, has regular meetings with Harriet Carty from Caring for God’s Acre, the organisation managing the project on behalf of the PCC. In September the Conservators Elliot Ryder will begin their work of conserving the Georgian tombs. Look out for opportunities to visit the churchyard and watch the conservators in action. The tombs are well away from the main burial area which is regularly visited, so their work will not interfere with access to these graves.
The project activity is to be filmed to provide a record of the project for the future.
During October a special Archive Day is to be held for the Heritage Resource Centre volunteers and others who may be interested in getting involved. A further Archive Day is planned for November in Shrewsbury. These events will be organised by Caring for God’s Acre through their own Heritage Lottery funded Beautiful Burial Ground Project. Further details will be announced nearer the date.
There is more activity and events for people to become involved with as the project progresses so look out for updates in the Deanery Magazine and the church’s own website which has a special section for the project.

Sue Cooper MBE
15th July