Church Monuments Society


Bath Abbey memorials web site

By CMS in Uncategorised

Bath Abbey was for many years the fashionable place to be buried and commemorated. The Abbey probably has more commemorative wall tablets and gravestones than any other church in England. There are almost 1500 in total spanning the 16th to the 20th centuries. We have been sent details of this tremendous project to transcribe the inscriptions and research the lives of people commemorated there.

The database is at . The project team has sent us this blog post:

The website is the result of 8 years of research by Bath Abbey’s archive team of staff and volunteers. The new database will enable the public to find out more about the wide range of people connected to the Abbey. It’s possible to search in a variety of ways including name, age, profession, dates of birth and death. There are also transcripts of the inscriptions on the memorials, translated from Latin, or modernised. Helpful location maps show where specific memorials are located inside the Abbey.

Many of the names have been researched in depth for the first time by our volunteers, which has resulted in some intriguing life-stories being uncovered.

We hope the site will be a helpful resource for historians, family ancestry researchers, teachers, heritage organisations and more. It will add to the existing pool of knowledge on Bath’s society in the Georgian and Victorian periods.

Out of the 1500 memorials, at least 200 relate to the British Empire and colonialism from the 1600s onwards. This means that the wall tablets or ledgerstones seen in the Abbey today were sometimes paid for from profits made through the suffering and exploitation of enslaved people.

One example is Hannah Alleyne (c.1727-1762) who was born into a large multi-generational family of plantation owners in Barbados. Her husband Thomas owned two plantations totalling 370 acres with 168 enslaved people forcibly working on them. Their son John became a lawyer and abolitionist who worked on the case known as the Mansfield Judgement (1772) which ruled that it was illegal to take an enslaved person out of England by force and sell them.

The Abbey deeply regrets this part of its history, and all human exploitation and racism, past and present. Along with the whole Church of England, we apologise unreservedly for having condoned or sustained the transatlantic slave trade, in any way whatsoever.

The Monumental Lives team of staff and volunteers is aware of the sensitivity of this subject matter and have taken responsibility to acknowledge and address this history by undergoing diversity and inclusion training by Renée Jacobs, founder of The Belonging Network ( Homepage – The Belonging Network).

 We have also consulted with Lisa Kennedy, an independent writer and researcher who advocates for the inclusion of wider perspectives within museums and the study of history. Lisa has edited and advised us on the use of appropriate language in the biographies of some of the people connected to colonialism, ​​with the intention to actively acknowledge and address this history. We have followed her recent guidance, ‘Finding the Words: addressing language in archive collections’ ( Finding-the-Words-booklet.pdf (

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