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A Map of the Graveyard
The church is set into the slope of the hill and the graveyard runs up the hill at the back. In 2013 the East Prawle History Society mapped out the graveyard and was able to document 366 graves; 1712 is the earliest found. There are several gravestones for sailors who died as a result of shipwreck. See below the map for more details about the wrecks and the burials. There are also many locals buried here.
The Wreck of the Marana
The blizzard and great storm of 9 and 10 March1891 was extremely severe. A 36-hour blinding snowstorm, drifts up to 26 feet deep, roads blocked for over a fortnight, coaches stuck etc.
During the snowstorm on Monday evening the steamship Marana ran on the Blackstone Rocks just off the Start Lighthouse. Thirteen crew and passengers drowned with at least eight of them being buried in Chivelstone Churchyard.
The Wreck of the Gossamer
In Kingsbridge and its Surroundings (1874), S P Fox wrote:
A China tea clipper ship, of 735 tons register, was wrecked in December, 1868, (near Prawle Point) and thirteen lives were lost. There was a strong south-west breeze, and a heavy sea. … Watched by the coastguards, who, under the orders of their chief officer (Mr Pengelly) had got out a rocket apparatus, and conveyed it to the point nearest to the wreck. The crew were so terrified that they were unable to perceive the preparations being made for their rescue, and several of them jumped overboard to swim ashore. Most of these, however, perished in the attempt; but all who maintained their position were brought ashore by the rocket apparatus.
The Captain was seen to lash his bride of just two weeks to a spar in the hope that she would stay afloat. For a time the two of them clung to the storm tossed bit of wood until the sea took them. Apparently their bodies were washed ashore shortly after. The gravestone on the right is theirs in St Sylvester’s Church, Chivelstone (Captain John Thomson and his wife Barbara Kerr)