21st October 2019

‘Paupers Graves’

“Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.”
Isaiah 26:19 (ESV)

Just a short distance from where we live, behind our local rugby club field, there is a small two acre site of woodland called ‘Paupers Graves.’ Just inside the gated entrance there is a mounted sign provided by our local council which details the history of this site and why it is so named. Over 200 years ago there was a workhouse nearby, dating from 1798 (the building still exists today but has today been converted into residential flats), together with an infirmary for sick inmates. The infirmary is no more, but this aforementioned woodland site was the burial ground for the inmates that died there. The graves were not named, merely numbered—first of all with metal tags, then later just marked with painted numbers on wood. The bodies were merely wrapped in sackcloth or linen, laid in shallow plots and covered with quicklime. Those that are buried there are believed to be mostly victims of smallpox. Thanks to the work of volunteers, many of the metal tags have been recovered and are now affixed to one large wooden cross, about 200 of them in all. The wooden tags have unfortunately just rotted away.

I often walk through this tranquil woodland with my dogs, as do many other local residents, and ponder on the lives of these unfortunate souls who during their lives must have experienced appalling hardship. They would have been the poorest in society and to avoid starvation for themselves and their families would have had no choice but to enter the workhouse. They have no names on their graves, no identity, just numbers—but God has not forgotten them. He is aware of even a sparrow that dies (Matthew 10:29), so how much more human beings created in His image! God knows who has been laid to rest in this tiny wildlife haven, and one day all the misery and suffering they must have endured in their lives will be wiped away when God resurrects them to a new life, hopefully to share eternity with Him (Revelation 21:4).

May that day come soon!

Our Father in Heaven, whatever we suffer in this life, we know it is as nothing compared to the glorious future which You have prepared for all mankind. Please hasten the time when Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, returns to this earth and restores all things. In His name we pray.

Study by Sue Roberts

About the Author:
Sue Roberts attends the Great Baddow Congregation of Grace Communion International

Local Congregation:
GCI Essex
Great Baddow
United Reformed church
High Street
Great Baddow

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 07584-193441
Email: greatbaddow@gracecom.church

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