Article by Richard Kirton - September 2012
The churchyard contains the remains of the Benton family, including the Rochford Hundred’s renowned local historian Phillip Benton. The parish church of St Mary Magdalen in Shopland Hall Road, Shopland, Essex was demolished in 1957 but the churchyard survives, albeit very unkempt.
Badgers regularly excavate his grave and have wreaked havoc by digging under the graves and bringing the bones up to the surface. Most of the Benton graves have been disturbed and there is probably nothing that can be done about it because badgers are a protected species.
It is illegal to kill badgers or destroy a sett and any attempt by the local parish council to have the badgers moved would undoubtedly be blocked by Natural England.
The grave of Philip Benton (d.1898) can be seen in the foreground and that of his first wife Eliza (d.1874) behind.
The furthest grave is of Mary Louisa their daughter who died on 21st September 1873, just 20 years old.