We always knew James was buried in Market Lavington churchyard, from the parish burial register (deposited at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre) but extensive searches of the graveyard had failed to locate his grave. We learnt that recently a book containing positional information for some burials had been given to Market Lavington Museum, which may help in locating James’s grave.
We contacted the museum prior to our visit to Market Lavington on the 23rd April 2016 and when we arrived we learnt that some of the Museum helpers had been out earlier in the day to try and find his grave location. Which by all accounts wasn’t easy, but with a bit of persistence and some lateral thinking they discovered the location of his grave and to their surprise there was also a gravestone.
When we arrived at the museum, we were met by the curator Mr. Frost. He took us across the graveyard and we stood in front of a grave on which you could not read the inscription due to the Crustose lichen growing on it. Mr Frost informed us that this was James’s grave.
With the assistance of some water and a toothbrush from the museum, I started to clean the headstone to reveal the wording which had been hidden from us in the past.
The cleaning of two faces of the gravestone revealed the following wording: “In loving memory of James Lye who fell asleep February 3rd 1906, aged 75, “Blessed are they who die in the lord for they rest from their labours” on the right hand side face was “Also of Maria his wife who died January 1909, aged 79, “Them also which sleep in Jesus god bring with him”.
Considering we had searched the churchyard on previous visits without any success, we had come to the conclusion that James and his wife had no gravestone, what a great surprise that with this recent museum acquisition and a bit of detective work we have been able locate James’s grave and gravestone a 110 years after his death.
James Lye. – On Saturday last, at a ripe age, a victim to paralysis, there passed away at Market Lavington, Wilts., a gardener in the person of James Lye, who had the warm esteem and regard of a wide circle of friends, and who had made for himself a good name in horticulture. For very many years he was Gardener at Clyffe Hall, Market Lavington, and there gave his attention largely to the raising and growing of Fuchsias and Potatoes. Whilst the varieties of the latter which he raised have been elbowed out of commerce by newer ones, many of his Fuchsias to-day still rank amongst the very best in cultivation – indeed, none are more beautiful, have better habits, or flower more abundantly. Mr. Lye was a very capable raiser and first class grower of specimens, and the noble pyramids he grew at Clyffe Hall, 9 to 10 feet in height, and referred to in an article in Gardeners’ Chronicle, February 14, 1885, were never excelled out of the West of England.
He had retired from active life for several years, but still retained his love for Fuchsia-raiding to the last. A.D.
From: The Gardeners’ Chronicle, February 14, 1906. p.g.94.