If, after passing through the lychgate you climb the steps on the left-hand side you will find, to the left of the notice board a very old tombstone of 1634 with the following inscription:
Heer resteth the Bodie of John Al cock late servant to John Aic horn, the elder esquire deceased and to John Aichorn the younger now live ng 28 yeares and who died March AnoD 1634 Aged 40
To the left of this is the tomb of William Page, Freemason – died June 7th 1672 aged 51 – and Robert Page – died January 4th 1682 aged 63. Close by (to the right of the notice board) is a table tomb in memory of William Reiffgins who died on November 20th 1613 (see note under North Porch) SYMBOLS USED ON HEADSTONES REPRESENT THE FOLLOWING Skull and crossed bones: mortality A scythe: death (the reaper) Serpent with its tail in its mouth: eternity sometimes within this circle is an eye: the all-seeing eye of God) Hour Glass: the sands of time are fast running out A book and pea: the Recording Angel Inverted torches: death, darkness and night Torches pointed upwards: light and day
Proceeding further, in the north east corner of the churchyard, behind three table tombs is a square stone building with a domed roof, often called the Rider Mausoleum. This is listed as a building of historic interest. Mr LRA Grove, a former Curator at Maidstone Museum, pointed out that the shield over the door is not of the Rider family but of Walker Head, who lived at Wierton Place, Mr Grove provided the following information:
“The Baronetcy was created in 1676 and the Head family came from Higham. near Rochester. The Rev Sir John Head, Bart, Perpetual Curate of Egerton, was born January 3rd 1773, succeeding his father on November 21st 1796. He was Rector of Rayleigh Essex and married Jane Walker on October 8th 1801. Edmund Walker Head was born in 1805 and his sister Anne in 1807.
The Register shows that they were both baptised in Boughton Monchelsea Church.
Edmund became the 8th Baronet on the death of his father on January 4th 1838 and he married Anne Maria, daughter of the Rev Philip Yorke (gi~andson of the 1st Earl of Hardwick) on November 27th of that year.
There was no surviving male offspring and the baronetcy became extinct on Sir Edmund’s death on January 4th 1838.
A memorial tablet in Rochester Cathedral records inter alia, that Sir Edmund Walker Head was Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, 1848-54 and Governor of British North America 1854-61.
As to the shield itself, it is interesting to note that the Boughton shield differs from that at Rochester. Both have the arms of the Head family on the dexter side, but the sinister side, at Bougliton bear the Walker arms whereas at Rochester they are those of Yorke. This would seem to date the building of the Mausoleum as prior to 1838 either by Sir Edmund or his father. The motto in both cases is ‘Study Quiet’ “.
If you walk southwards from the Mausoleum you will pass the line of “body” tombs laid in line alongside the wall of the church. Opposite these is a large tomb enclosed by railings erected by Ann Cole in memory of her husband John (died 9 October 1822), John’s father (died 21 John and Ann’s August 1822). It also bears the inscription “It is appointed unto men once to die”.
A little further on are two large headstones for members of the Elliot family. That for Edward Elliot, a mason – died 1786 aged 50 – has a sculpture, still just visible, depicting a man leaping out of his stone coffin at the sound of the last trump. The Angel of Life is breaking a dart or “sting” over his knee and there is a broken scythe and a skeleton whose crown has fallen off his head, symbolising the conquering of death.
The other tomb is in memory of Edward Elliot Senior, also a mason -died March 1st 1769 aged 80. This shows the Elliot Arms.
Moving round to the south side of the church, adjacent to the wall, is a table tomb to the memory of Sidrach Fowle, Freemason who died 1616.
A little further on is a headstone with the following curious inscription:
“In memory of Sarah Tomkin who having been blind for 12 years was restored to sight on Ocule Sunday, Third Sunday in Lent, March 19th 1865”
Ocule or Oculi Sunday was an old name applied to this day because the antiphon12 appointed for this Sunday was “Mine eyes are ever to the Lord” (Psalm 25).
Further to the east and down the slope, enclosed by iron railings is the Joy family tomb. This includes Thomas Joy (29.11.1784 – 24.1.1851) son of Thomas and Mary Joy and who was Churchwarden at the time of the fire in 1832 and father of Musgrove (18 12- 1866) and Susanna (1813-1862). Musgrove was the artist and donor of the oil painting “Christ at Emmaus”
At the west end of the church, facing the wall the fifth stone from the path is a now barely decipherable “cherub” tombstone. It is in memory of William Martin who died on July 4th 1754 and depicts a cherub, an hour glass, crossed bones and a serpent with its tail in its mouth.
As you walk south to the lower churchyard you will see on either side of the path two stones in memory of casualties of the First World War.
On the left in memory of Stoker Petty Officer WL Laight of HMS Spey who died on March 7th 1917; the stone shows a foul anchor and a cross beneath.
On the right in memory of Private WF Russ who died on January 14th 1918; the stone shows the Regimental badge of the East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) above and a cross below.
Further down on the right is the grave of Richard Frank Jolly GC (awarded posthumously) who was killed in action when commanding HMS Mohawk, 16 October 1939.
These are only a few of the tombstones of interest in the churchyard which contains many types of headstone. Sadly some have weathered badly and the inscriptions are barely decipherable. However, thanks to the dedication of members of Kent Family History Society the church does now have a record of inscriptions of all of the headstones in the churchyard.
In 1993 a faculty was granted so that the kerbstones in the area of the churchyard immediately surrounding the church could be removed, mainly for ease of maintenance of the churchyard.
Those kerbs bearing inscriptions were re-sited in the north-east corner of the churchyard wall.