On a gravestone in the churchyard at Langton Herring, Dorset, England is carved the epitaph, “REMEMBER John Hardy aged 7, Henry Mowlam aged 8, Richard Mowlan aged 6, Charles Vivian aged 8 who died together in 1852 at play in the village limekiln”.
It was reported that the children of the place sometimes amused themselves by running over the layers of limestone during the process of heating, which they could do with safety when the kiln, which stood about 4 1/2 feet high, was full. The stones were heated in layers, placed one upon another.
About 5 o’clock one afternoon, when only the first layer of stones was undergoing the process of heating, four young boys named Charles Vivian aged 8 1/2 years, Henry Moulam 8 years, Richard Moulam 6 years and John Hardy 7 years, climbed over the wall of the kiln to get down on the heated stone. They were immediately overcome by the gas from the stones and suffocated in a few minutes. Another boy was following them, and he narrowly escaped the same fate.
An alarm was soon given and assistance arrived, though the man who first ventured into the kiln to help was himself nearly overcome. Mr Power, surgeon of Abbotsbury was promptly sent for, and previous to his arrival, the Rector of the Parish, the Rev. P.J.C. Trenow, did all he could to revive the boys.
At the funeral, the children were bourne to their graves by eighteen local children clad in white.
In 1992, the small wooden cross which marked the graves of these children was replaced by a stone monument cut and suitably inscribed by a local stone mason and paid for by descendants of the families and local residents.