Tomb Restoration 3

With the Blamy tombs finished we moved onto the tomb of Catherine Daw or should I say what was left of the tomb.  It had been totally destroyed by three large ash trees and it was guessed that this tomb had once been a table top tomb but with only the slate and a pile of bricks it was difficult to say exactly.

The tomb contained Catherine Daw 31st March 1829 wife of John Daw of Veryan and sister Elizabeth Martyn 27th November 1850 widow of John Martyn of Lower St Columb.  Both sisters were married in Colon and their surname was Williams.  It looks like Elizabeth came to stay in Veryan with her sister Catherine after the death of her husband in 1798.  I have not been able to find the death of Catherine’s husband John in Veryan or Ruan.  The only connection they have to Ruan is that Elizabeth was the mother of William Martyn who was farming at Gonitor.

Tracking a relative for this tomb was easy as I had already used the Martyn line for the Blamy tombs.


A few years ago the trees were cut down to ground height and left to rot, so we hoped that the removal of the remaining wood would be easy.

Our first job was to carefully lift the slate off the pile of bricks and this took three people as the slate was so heavy and it was then laid on the ground clear of the grave.  We then sorted the bricks into whole, half, quarter and bits, with each category in piles.  Next we had to clean off the old lime mortar without damaging the bricks ready for reuse.  Having cleared the grave of bricks and vegetation we then started to look at how much damage the trees had done to the foundations, luckily we only needed to go down two courses on one side.  Removing the remainder of the tree stump, to allow us to rebuild the side proved very hard.  The stump had rotted at the top but not at the bottom.  Carefully using the chainsaw and axe we gradually chopped it away.  While doing this we found that the stump actually had grown around a number of bricks and stones.  Two chainsaw blades and a re-sharpened axe later it was gone.  The soil, roots and sawdust was cleaned off the in situ base bricks ready to be built on.  The first part course was lime mortared in place and allowed to set.  As there was no indication as to whether there had been a connecting inner wall just like the Blamy tombs, we decided to put one in to help strengthen the sides.  The next part course was laid to bring the total base up to ground level and the building of the next three layers began.  We finished laying the final three layers of bricks with lime mortar and when these had set, filled the void to just below the top brick.  The next bit of relaying the slate headstone was going to be tricky as it was so heavy (I couldn’t even lift one end), so we got three strong men to help.  A layer of mortar was put on the top bricks and then the men carefully lowered the slate into position, with this now bedded in, the final job was to point in the bricks.


With this finished we moved onto the railed tomb and grave of the Peter family.



Tomb Restoration 2

While the stone masons were working on the Luke vault we started the repairs on the Blamy table top tombs by the porch.  We have a retired stone mason who is advising us but it made sense to make a start while the other stone masons were there.

The first tomb contains Nicholas Blamy 6th September 1811 and his wife Sibella 18th March 1807.  The second tomb contains their son Nicholas Blamy 8th February 1796, his sister Mary Ann Behennah 28th August 1818 and brother-in-law Henry Behennah 17th March 1823.  Nicholas married Sibella Odgers in 1767 at Ruan Lanihorne and as far as I can find only had two children Nicholas and Mary Ann.  Their son Nicholas unfortunately died at the age of 23 and so the Blamy name died out in this line.  From a newspaper article in 1811 we know that Nicholas Blamy was living at Gonitor and from the tomb of Henry Behennah that he was at Gonitor in 1823.  In 1927 Mr Penter found at Gonitor the bottom of a glass bottle with the date 1745 and name N. Blamey, Ruan, whether this was the same Nicholas I have no idea but as he would have only been four, I feel that it was probably a relative.

As mentioned above with the Blamy name died out I had to search for a relative through the daughter Mary Ann Behennah, who complicated matters by only having four daughters but I was able to trace down through her daughter Elizabeth who married William Martyn, a great great great great grandson in Australia, who was delighted to give permission for work to be carried out.


The two tombs are identical in construction.  They are rectangular in shape, each having several rows of red bricks with a similar connected course inside, a torus moulded white limestone outer border to lids with an inscribed slate inset between which sit on metal ties.

The first thing we had to do was to remove any vegetation that was growing on the tombs and it was decided to tackle Nicholas and Sibella’s tomb first as it needed less work.  After advice from the stone masons we chiselled out the old lime mortar where needed from between the bricks and cleared out earth from where there was nothing plus what seemed like an everlasting supply of snails. A couple of bricks on two of the corners had come out and these were cleaned off ready to be put back in.  The whole of the walls were then brushed off to ensure there was no loose dirt etc and we were ready to start the re-pointing and repairing.  The stone masons mixed the first batch of lime mortar for us, giving instructions on how this needed to be done and then showed us how to do the re-pointing and the tools we needed.  We started by lime mortaring back the couple of loose bricks on the corners and then started to re-point the walls.  With this finished we moved onto the second tomb.  The second tomb needed a lot more work including almost completely rebuilding one end.  We started by rebuilding the collapsed end and then carried on to chisel out the old lime mortar where needed and replace with new.  With the sides complete we tackled the top which was up and down all over the place.  Firstly we took out all the odd bits of slate that had been used to prop the mouldings up and then cleared under them to sit them flat again, with this done we pushed them back together and made them level to match the other tomb.  The final job was to lime mortar the mouldings to the base on both tombs and we were finished.


With both tombs finished we moved onto the next tomb of Catherine Daw behind the tower.



Restoration of Tombs

Restoration of Tombs


Last year a survey of the tombs/headstones was done in the churchyard at Ruan Lanihorne and several were identified as needing some work done on them.  It was decided to tackle ten of the oldest ones first and so the process of getting a faculty began. Photographs were taken of their present state, a summary of the work needed, a statement of how the work would be done, a risk assessment, an estimate of the cost and finally to search for a relative to gain permission.  I had thought that it would be quite difficult to find a relative but actually I was able to do this fairly quickly.  The faculty was now applied for and eventually we received a visit from a diocesan representative to have a look at the proposed work.  He was very helpful and earlier this year we got the go ahead.

At the beginning of September the stone masons arrived to start work on the Luke vault in the north corner of the churchyard.  Many visitors have asked whether this was an air raid shelter and have been directed to the plaque in the transept.  The plaque tells us that nine members of the Luke family are within, Mary Luke 19th October 1800, sister Elizabeth 22nd October 1807, brother John 3rd November 1807, sister Jennifer 2nd January 1792, sister-in-law Mary 5th December 1813, sister Martha 20th March 1816, brother William (vice admiral) 19th December 1818, sister Susanna 8th August 1819 and sister Ann 27th December 1819.  Three of the sisters were married but their husbands were not interred with them.  Susanna’s husband Richard Thomas was buried in Veryan and is mentioned on a plaque there along with his first wife Abigail.  I also wonder whether Jennifer is interred as she also has a headstone in the transept next to their parents John and Elizabeth Luke.  The Luke family lived at Treviles.

The exact date of construction is not known but we do know from the will of Ann Luke that the vault was erected by her brother John Luke.  I suspect that as Jennifer had a headstone in the church that it was probably built after 1792 and before 1807 when John died.  It is also the will of Ann Luke that bequeaths to the church the sum of two hundred pounds in trust for the interest thereof to be used “for the proper repair of the said Monument,” unfortunately this bequest now would not cover the cost of paint.

The vault has a granite barrel top with stone sides surrounded by iron railings and over the years vegetation has caused a considerable amount of damage to the top.  Before work was started permission had been sort to open the vault to ensure that the inside was sound and this was the first thing to be done.  A small opening was made in the bricked up entrance.  On inspection it was found that the inside had a brick barrel ceiling with stalactites of lime hanging down, the walls had been lime plastered and two coffins on a wood floor. For many years it had been conjectured that with the number interred the coffins must be stacked on either side but as only two could be seen it is now speculated that the remaining members are stacked below the wooden floor which was higher than the bottom of the entrance.  The inspection found the inside was in extremely good condition and so work could be started on the outside.  The opening was resealed.

Firstly the vegetation was removed and then they slowly removed each granite block from the top, carefully placing them on the grass in the order they came off.  The next job was to remove the several inches of soil that had built up over the years from beneath these stones.  When this had been cleaned up it showed that there was a layer of stone and lime mortar.  With this now all cleared they started to reinstate the granite blocks on a layer of lime mortar, while this set they started to clean out the stone sides ready to re-point.  The whole of the vault was re-pointed where needed and the final job was to take off the rust on the railings and then paint them.  The metal entrance gate needed some repair and went off to be welded; this will be painted as well on its return.


The next tombs to be restored are the Blamey table top tombs by the porch.