St Nicholas Churchyard Bath
Near Bath
Somerset BA2 6TU
 
 
 
Some of Bath’s famous and infamous identities are buried in St Nicholas Church churchyard.
 
1. Jean Baptiste Vicomte Du Barre (1749-1778) 
The grave is just north of the west door. The stone is inscribed 'Here rest the remains of Jean Baptiste du Barre. Obiit 18th November, 1778'. This memorial neglects to mention that Vicomte Du Barre was killed in a duel.
 
Frenchman Du Barre arrived in Bath in 1778 with his wife and sister and a certain Captain Rice, an Irish Jacobite whose grand father had served in the French army.
 
The plan was to make money from the gambling that was rife in Georgian Bath at that time. To this end they leased No. 8 Royal Crescent and conducted lavish card parties in the house.
 
One night, Du Barre and Rice were quarrelling over how the £600 they had won should be shared out. Rice challenged Du Barre and ‘threw down his glove’. Du Barre accepted the challenge and they met in a misty dawn on Claverton Down, pistols primed. Du Barre fired first and wounded Rice in the thigh. Rice aimed more accurately and shot Du Barre in the chest. The Frenchman died a few minutes later.
 
They say that his Ghost may be seen standing beside the bar in The George Inn Bathampton.
 
2. Vice-Admiral Arthur Phillip (1738-1814)
This grave is now inside St Nicholas Church in the Australia Chapel. It is worth knowing why this distinguished naval officer is so important to Australia.
 
In 1787 the Home Secretary, Viscount Sydney commissioned Captain Phillip to sail to Australia in order to establish a convict settlement. Phillip left Portsmouth with 11 ships carrying 1487 people of whom 750 were convicts. This First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson harbour on 26th January 1788. Each year Australians celebrate this start of white settlement with Australia Day.
 
In honour of his patron, Captain Phillip named the new settlement Sydney.
 
Captain Arthur Phillip was the first governor of what was to later become New South Wales. During his tenure the settlement prospered and was relatively peaceful. Arthur Phillip was convinced that there was a great future for Australia and worked hard to ensure this happened. In 1793 he returned to England and retired to Bath, living at 19 Bennett Street.
 
Unfortunately his long life in the Royal Navy and the privations of establishing a colony in Australia left him in poor health. Towards the end of his life he suffered a stroke which paralysed his right arm and leg. Sometimes he could be seen being wheeled around The Circus in a Bath chair (a wheelchair).
 
During his retirement he frequently visited friends in Bathampton and came to love the little church of St Nicholas. He requested that his body be laid to rest in this beloved churchyard.
 
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3. Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942)
The grave also contains the remains of Sickert’s third wife. The simple stone reads “Walter Sickert 1860 – 1942”. Below it reads “Therese Sicket nee Therese Lessore 1884-1945”.
 
This famous impressionist artist lived at St George’s Hill, Bathampton for the last four years of his life. Examples of his work are on display in the Victoria Art Gallery and the Holburne Museum of Art in Bath.
 
Sicket was a pupil of James McNeil Whistler and a life-long friend of Degas. During the First World War he visited Bath and loved it so much he returned to the area in 1932. By this time he was mostly painting from newspaper photographs. During Sickert’s career Sir Winston Churchill invited him to his home ‘Chartwel’ in Kent to provide advice on his painting technique. Churchill was a keen and talented amateur painter whose paintings can be seen in his studio at Chartwell.
 
4. William Harbutt (1844-1921)
Fans of clay-modelling animation films will be interested in this grave. Born in North Shields, William Harbutt trained as an artist and came to the area in 1874 as headmaster of the Bath School of Art and Design. In 1877 together with his talented artist wife Elizabeth, he opened his own art school in Bath.
 
Around 1897 Harbutt invented an oil-based clay for his sculpture students. He first produced this substance in the basement of his house at Bathampton. He soon noticed that his own children loved playing with the malleable clay and so he went into commercial production, calling it Plasticine.
 
Harbutt’s Plasticine factory in Bathampton closed in 1987 but this wonderful product has regained popularity with the incredibly successful animation films using Plasticine modelling for such characters as Wallace & Gromit.
 
 
Google Maps - St Nicholas Church, Bathampton