Projects – Cow Town 1850-1900

St Marys Churchyard; Cow Town Project 1850 – 1900



In the heart of Higher Brixham lies St Mary’s Church, a site that has overlooked both ‘Cow Town’ & latterly ‘Fish Town’ for hundreds of years. Over the last 18 months a group of people have been regularly meeting in the church yard to record all the names on the gravestones to once again have, as near as is possible a complete record of those who lie there.

The original records were lost in the Exeter Blitz and although over the years some of the work has been accomplished, nothing to date has been done on this scale before. In this oasis of quiet, just yards away from the hustle and bustle of St Mary’s Square, it is so easy to reflect on the lives of those who are buried there. For over the years, history reveals itself behind those names, many of them so familiar and still heard today within the town. As a result of the project a new Commonwealth War Graves sign can be found in the main entrance to the churchyard signposting those who should never be forgotten. I have to confess that like many a visitor I had no idea that there were some war graves in the church yard, one dating back to 1919 and the remaining eight graves from WW2.


If you have an interest in the above lottery funded project ‘St Mary’s Church Yard – Cow Town 1850-1900’, please contact the project co-ordinator Phil Trayhorn tel: 01803 752239. Help is now required to verify and confirm the details on the records that have already been compiled. If you have any knowledge or information about family or people buried there that can be added to the information already collated, you will be welcome with open arms. Alternatively, why not go along on a Wednesday or a Saturday morning and make yourself known.

The project put on an exhibition ‘Cow Town Victorian Higher Brixham’, in September.

Illustration by the later Peter Archer