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Graveyard Information

Whitechurch

County : Down

Denomination :

Graveyard Name : Whitechurch

Civil Parish : Ballywalter

Town / Townland : Whitechurch

OS Reference : J622699

Other Information : This old graveyard is on a tertiary road from Ballyboley to the north end of Ballywalter, half a mile out of the town It is in the townland of Whitechurch and parish of Ballywalter The church is mentioned in the Taxation of 1306 as the Alba Ecclesia, a translation ot its Irish name, and the Archaeological Survey of County Down dates it from the 13th century There are fragments of 3 Norman grave-slabs which have been mounted on the outside of the NE end of the building They are of the standard pattern and 2 have swords and one a pair of shears Transepts were added about the 15th century but that on the south has disappeared completely while that on the north is partly incorporated into modern grave enclosures The church survived the Elizabethan and Cromwelliam wars and was still in use in 1657 though with only a thatched roof It was finally abandoned after the new church had been erected at Balligan in 1704 to serve the needs of Ballywalter, Ballyhalbert and Innishargy parishes The old site was then used purely as a graveyard and when a new church was needed for the rising population of Ballywalter it was built in the town (1849) Parish registers of Ballywalter date from the period of the new church; baptisms from 1845, marriages from 1850 and burials from 1844 First Ballywalter Presbyterian registers also exist; baptisms from 1824, marriages from 1845 The second Presbyterian Registers for baptism date from 1820 and marriage from 1845 The oldest gravestones are in the church but unfortunately are broken and worn One of these has a date 1663 and the Makie stone is probably earlier The oldest complete stone is dated 1667 (Faris) Most of the older graves are to the south of the church both inside and beyond the circular path The Dunleath (Mulholland) enclosure is to the north of the church and most of the graves to this side date from the present century The graveyard is well kept and has roses honeysuckle and escallonia bushes scattered around It is open from dawn to dusk throughout the year.


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