Here is an exchange with Wendy Morgan regarding the Funeral Bier.
Wendy his a
local history expert and long time archivist for St
Britius Church in Brize Norton.
Can you give us any background to the village funeral bier?
Who acquired it and when? As you may know it was smartened
up and made to look like new for Bob Watts' funeral and it is
now on loan to the Witney Town Council and housed in the chapel
on the Tower Hill Cemetry. We can have it back in the village when
required and Carolyn decorated it for the Remembrance centenary
last November (pictures on the community website).
I was told by Kath Timms that John Packer who was a carpenter,
and the village undertaker made the bier (he was also a sidesman, member
the PCC and a bellringer). He was born 1882 and died 1951 so I'd
at the beginning of the century and Kath mentioned that the bier was
very old with
hoops to hold funeral flowers but was this the same one or did he make a
When we arrived at St Britius in 1980 it was kept in the tower room
sometime in one of Peter Brown's barns. It was then moved to the school
for their use.
Many thanks for the information about the funeral bier it supports my
it belongs to the church. Would you say that I am right even though it
has been in
the custody of the parish council in thr garage beside the sports
Bob Watt's funeral mentioned in my email.
The bier does belong to the church and not the council. It was kept
in the church tower room
and was used to collect the corpse from their place of residence and
pulled to the church.
No funeral directors in those days or places to keep the corpse so
funerals were soon
after death. Mr Packer who made the bier also tolled the funeral