The churchyard comprises two distinct areas known as the ‘old’ and ‘new’ churchyards.
The ‘old’ churchyard completely surrounds the church and was originally bounded on the west by a line drawn from the Church Hill gate to the entrance to the Hollenden Estate (by the current Quiet Garden). This was extended westwards in April 1873 by the acquisition of a further parcel of land from the Estate. This is referred to in this register as the ‘extension’ to the old churchyard.
Two further parcels of land were individually conveyed to the church from the Hollenden Estate in June 1920 and January 1946. These two extensions (the first to the west and the second to the north) has become known as the ‘new’ churchyard. This has been laid out to a regular grid which has been used to locate all of the graves it contains.
A small area of the old churchyard on the north side of the church has been allocated for burials without headstones. This is known as the ‘lawn’ and is depicted on the ground by four white corner stones buried in the grass. These can be located with reference to the plan of the area.
The northern boundary of the old churchyard is bounded by a ‘memorial wall’ which houses memorial plaques to many of those whose ashes are buried in either the old or new churchyard, together with a number of persons, connected with the village or individual parishioners whose funerals have taken place elsewhere.
The burial registers make references to ashes being interred in a ‘garden of remembrance’. More recent interments (since 1978) have been in the area immediately in front of the memorial wall. It is not clear where previous references to the garden of remembrance were located.
Format of registers
The location of graves in the old churchyard (including the 1873 extension) is limited to those bearing headstones or other memorials when the Leigh Historical Society undertook and documented a survey of the churchyard in 1984/5. The ‘Log of Gravestones in the Old Churchyard’ , includes verbatim records of the inscriptions of all the graves listed. Graves without stones cannot be related back to the burial registers.
The Register of Graves in the New Churchyard is a comprehensive record of all burials and interments since June 1920. Whilst this centres on the new churchyard, as defined above, it also includes additional burials/interments in the old churchyard since that date, burials in the lawn and commemorations on the memorial wall.
The memorials of Leigh St Mary’s have now also been photographed and indexed and can be found at https://www.findagrave.com