6. A Guide to the Churchyard


When you are ready to leave the church, having taken in its beauty and peace, take time to walk around the Churchyard.  Here are buried the famous together with the less well known though far from ordinary people of the village.

The memorial plaque to Sir Edward Burne-Jones and that of his wife Georgiana can be seen just to the left of the West door on leaving the church.  Although Burne-Jones was the first artist to have a memorial service in Westminster Abbey, his ashes were buried by the parish church, here in Rottingdean, within sight of his home ‘North End House’ which is across the Green from the church. 

Edward Burne Jones Memorial

Angela Thirkel, society novelist, much loved grand-daughter of Sir Edward Burne-Jones has her memorial also to the left of the West door, a wooden structure needing repair you may think, but this was Angela’s wish that it should ‘rot’ into the ground.  The Angela Thirkel Society is still very popular with members who visit St Margaret’s church frequently in her memory.  One of her most popular books (repeatedly reprinted) is ‘Three Houses’ a child’s memoir of Rottingdean.

Another interesting gravestone can be seen to the North side of the church, with its inscription.

Erected by Order of the Admiralty in memory of David Bennett AB and Alfred Barnes OS also two other men not identified.  Drowned Sunday March 24 1878 when HMS Eurydice in which they were serving, foundered off the Isle of Wight.  Their bodies, which were washed ashore near this spot, are buried here.

There was a great loss of life that day, 364 officers and men, most of whom are buried in Haslar Hospital Cemetery in Portsmouth.  There is a plaque in the town to honour their memory.

Another well known character and novelist whose ashes are buried in the churchyard are those of Enid Bagnold.  She was the daughter of Colonel Arthur Henry Bagnold; Enid was born in Rochester Kent on the 27th October 1889.  Her early childhood was spent in Jamaica. She became a journalist for the magazine ‘Hearth and Home’.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Enid Bagnold joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) and worked as a nurse at the Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich. Later she went to France as a volunteer driver, she wrote of this experience in ‘The Happy Foreigner’.

In 1920 she married Roderick Jones the head of Reuters News Agency, they moved to North End House, Rottingdean.  Bagnold continued to write, and in 1924 published the highly acclaimed novel ‘Difficulty of Getting Married’.

This was followed by the commercially successful ‘National Velvet’ (1935).

If ever an author managed to get everything into one book, Bagnold did it with ‘National Velvet’, a great hit with children and adults alike. It was later made into a hugely successful film, with Elizabeth Taylor in the starring role.

Enid Bagnold died in March 1981 in London.  Her ashes were buried in St Margaret’s churchyard Rottingdean, after cremation at Golders Green. 

Entrance to Memorial Garden

Follow the path to the ‘Memorial Garden’ which is maintained as an English Country Garden, this is where cremated remains are buried.  We welcome you to enjoy its peace and quiet. 

As you leave the Churchyard through the Lych-gate which was built in 1897 in memory of the Reverend Arthur Thomas, a former Vicar. Glance up at the arch and see the inscription.


On the entrance side of the lych-gate once again look up, the inscription on the arch reads.


The term Lych-gate is from the Old English for ‘corpse’ or dead body, which would lie in the gate-house before a funeral.