Until Holy Trinity Church was opened in 1840
St Helen's Churchyard was the only place of burial in Ashby. It was officially closed after the reopening of Ashby Cemetery on Moira Road in 1857,
though burials continued in existing family graves until the 1930s.
People of all faiths and none were buried in St Helen's Churchyard. One grave records that its inhabitant was 'of the Wesleyan itinerancy.'
The Primitive Methodist Minister, Joseph Taylor, who died in 1832,
aged just 28, was also buried in the Churchyard.
A Terrier (inventory) of the rights of the Church of St Helen, dated 1693
, records the costs of styles of burial: "Burials in the Churchyard with a shroud fourpence, with a Coffin eightpence, in the Church sixteen pence, in the vestry six and eight pence. Mortuaries of worth forty pounds ten shillings."
when the Church was restored and extended, all the headstones in the Churchyard were laid flat on the ground and in the 1970s
those in the 1812
churchyard extension, to the west of the Church Tower, were removed and placed around the churchyard walls.
St Helen's is a 'closed' churchyard, in the care of Ashby Town Council. The only burials now are of ashes in the Garden of Remembrance. These are unmarked.
Standing in the churchyard affords a good view of the exterior of St Helen's Church. A careful observer with notice the date '1878
' carved into stones on the corners of the Victorian extension. If you look up at the south side of the Church Tower, you will see our unique 15th Century
'declining vertical sundial'.
Beyond the churchyard wall to the south is the Manor House, built in the 1830s
, and beyond that Ashby Castle. The the north is a row of 19th Century cottages and our Community Heritage Centre, opened in 2018
, and behind the redbrick wall the old vicarage, now a private house.
Learn more about the churchyard and its surrounds by clicking on the links below.