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Surprise as headstones unearthed in Stradbroke woman's back garden

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A Stradbroke woman uncovered more than she bargained for when landscaping her garden, discovering several headstones.

Mari-Carmen Coutts, 50, said the discovery has been a bizarre experience and has finally decided to give the headstones a new home, saving them from auction or destruction.

The headstones are dated between the 1700s and 1800s, including the headstone of an infant girl.

Ms Coutts moved into her house in New Street three years ago with her children, Rosie, James and Robert.

"The house was originally the vicarage and we bought it from the church," she explained. "It had been rented out for a long time and was in quite a state when we got it."

With plans to landscape the garden, Ms Coutts enlisted the help of her neighbour, Louis Osborne, to help with the groundworks.

"He ran up and said he had found something in the garden," she said.

"I said 'as long as it's not a dead body, we'll be fine', and he looked quite worried.

"It was a headstone, stood upright. We carried on digging and discovered four more. It was very odd."

After getting in touch with the home's previous owner, Ms Coutts said the headstones were from the old churchyard outside Stradbroke's All Saints Church.

At one time, the churchyard was turned into a carpark, with the headstones either taken away for other uses or simply covered over.

Ms Coutts said she believes the headstones were used for a retaining wall between her and Mr Osborne's back gardens.

"I thought they had to move everything to do something like that, but apparently not," said Ms Coutts.

"One grave is for an infant girl. This was someone's precious daughter, and the headstones are a marker of someone's life.

"I didn't want to sell them or throw them in a skip – even if they may be worth a bit of money."

Ms Coutts plans to keep the headstone of the infant girl in a perennial rose garden, with the other headstones to be used as paving.

"The headstones will be facing upright," explained Ms Coutts.

"So if the families ever come looking for their relatives, they will know where they are in the village."

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