Sunday, August 5, 2012

A virtual walk through Radnor Street Cemetery - Richard James Leighfield

Hopefully visitors to Radnor Street Cemetery will have noticed a definite improvement in recent months. The Community Payback team have been working hard tidying up the cemetery with regular litter picks and cutting back weeds. Decoration work is due to begin next month in the Chapel where Perspex has replaced the boarded up windows, allowing more light into the building.

The Chapel and cemetery will play a significant role in Swindon's Great War commemorations across the next five years - visit for more details.

Meanwhile take a look at some of the memorials that have featured in our guided walks of the cemetery.

This is another magnificent pink granite memorial full of funerary iconography.  The fluted pillars or columns at the top symbolise the door to heaven or the passageway to eternity.  The letter L is displayed prominently passing through this entrance.

The thorny acanthus leaves symbolise the prickly path of earthly life to death and eventual eternal life.
This is the last resting place of the Leighfield family.  Firstly of Elizabeth, the devoted wife of Richard James Leighfield of Witney Street, Swindon who died after a long and painful illness after which she sweetly fell asleep in Jesus on February 2, 1910 aged 49 years.

Elizabeth was buried with the couple’s second son David who had died aged just 3 weeks old in 1892.
The inscription on this memorial is the first verse of a hymn called The Christian’s Good Night – lyrics by Sarah Doudney and music by Ira D. Sankey.

Sleep on beloved sleep and take thy rest,
Lay down thy head upon thy Saviour’s breast.
We love thee well but Jesus loves thee best.
Good night, good night, good night.

Richard was born in Wootton Bassett in 1859 the son of postman James Leighfield and his wife Ann.  At the age of 12 Richard was already working as a mason’s labourer, later becoming a bricklayer and by 1891 he was a builder.

In 1887 he married Elizabeth Hunt and at the time of the 1891 census they were living at 83 Clifton Street with their two year old son James.  Richard built houses on Clifton Street, Whitney Street and Ponting Street and between 1901-1916 the family firm built 39 houses at St Mary’s Grove.  Following Elizabeth’s death, Richard married Clara Williams in 1913. 

The family firm was busy during the 1920s and 30s when they built the Primitive Methodist Church at The Circle, Pinehurst, the Co-op on Groundwell Road and the Swindon Corporation Electricity Dept showrooms at 21 Regent Circus, now Rudi’s Bar just across the road from the Swindon Central Library.

Richard died in 1948 aged 89 and his second wife Clara in 1964.  

Old image of Swindon Electricity Showrooms is courtesy of Swindon Central Library - visit the website on

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