The Brown Paper Parcel

Social Media can be a mixed blessing – but something it is seriously good at is sharing discoveries or findings with groups of common interest – such as our ‘Friends’ group. On this occasion David, one of our members, shared a news item he had found – the news headline was ‘Leas Zig-Zag path gets go-ahead‘.

It was a quickie update on various news items of interest, published February 1920 in the Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald – and included an update that the council had decided to go ahead with the construction of the Zig-Zag path at a cost of £2000, but had decided not to accept an amendment which would reduce the gradient making it easier for bathchairs and prams as this would double the price.

The next paragraph mentioned a Mr William Deedes of Saltwood Castle who felt it was immoral that 46 million people would struggle to pay the price for coal, but the owners would be pocketing £40 million a year. The third paragraph mentions that the Angling Society had caught eight pikes, and landed 71 lbs of fish in a day.

And right at the bottom, should you read that far, the news item includes mention of gravedigger Henry Jarvis who found a brown paper parcel containing the body of a newly born male child of 8lbs, when he went to clear rubbish from against the Folkestone cemetery wall.

Nowadays such sad news would have made the headline and shocked the country – but sadly back in those days, it was not uncommon for the bodies of babies to be found left at the cemetery gates, or left on the beach. The baby boy may have died by accidental cause – but the family if they were poor would have likely been unable to afford a burial and by leaving the baby at the cemetery they would be sure that the council would arrange for the baby to be buried.

Although there was little information to go on, our Volunteer/Researcher Carole managed to find records that confirm that ‘a baby boy unknown’ was buried 26th February in section 8.

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