Friday, 22 July 2016

Wednesday 20 July 2016

The plastering work has been done inside the church and is ready for the painters. So we had a 4 volunteers cleaning up the church through the morning, getting rid of all the dust.  

Summer is here at last although short sharp heavy rain showers forced us inside the church twice during the day. Now that the scaffolding has all gone, we were able to set to work on the North Side of the churchyard at last. We started on surveying and recording memorials, as well as triangulating positions.
Essential piece of equipment - a broom!

We found a little memorial stone which had been mysteriously moved from its original position to a shadowy spot under the far wall, which posed the question – should we leave it there or return it to its home? We decided we must leave it where it was.

Several memorials which need RTI photography were identified – but they lie under the shade of large trees and on a sunny day they are in dappled sunlight. They were too large (being long kerbstones) to be shaded by a simple plywood board so we had to leave them for another day.

As with last week we were faced with long rows of un-marked burial plots and had to use the flagging out method again to plot them in on the plan. It’s a simple but effective method.

While we were there the new interpretation board arrived – this was designed and installed with the support of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the Diocese.
The board now stands proudly by the lych gate, welcoming visitors into the churchyard.
Admiring the new interpretation board
We were joined today by a friend of mine, visiting from London, staying in Embsay for a holiday, and quickly put her to work!

Jane Lunnon

Hello, from said friend from London! Thrilled to be invited to join the surveying group again on both Wednesdays of my stay.

The process of recording and photographing each gravestone or memorial or unmarked plot is exact and absorbing, but once Jane, Eileen and I had got into a routine the day didn’t seem long enough! The gravestones are very interesting; the wording chosen (where we could read it), the designs -fruit and flowers etc, the recording of the passing on of babies and young children over a hundred and fifty years ago still poignant.

On last year’s visit I noticed a number of gravestones and memorials in a row together with the name ‘Heyworth’ on them.  This is a family name of the family I married into from Newcastle; my mother-in-law said she was told they were mill-people who moved to the north-east.  The story she recounted, by her own admission, seemed to owe much to Catherine Cookson – involving someone from a wealthy mill-owning family eloping with a worker for love. I am going to try and research this myself -what are the odds of my family being descended from the ones in this area?

Debbie and Eileen hard at work earning their right to have cake at lunchtime!
 One consequence of the churchyard survey is that many people have visited this beautiful church and churchyard to look for their own family graves and history and I can understand the draw of this. They are lucky if they visit on Wednesdays when the surveying takes place as a warm welcome and expert help is on hand to show them the data-base and assist their search.

I was made very welcome, catching up with old friends and making new ones and I thoroughly enjoyed the day and am looking forward to next Wednesday.

Deb Hattam

Friday, 15 July 2016

Wednesday 13th July 2016

It’s mid-summer and the day began with some welcome sunshine, although by the end of the day we were donning our coats or jumpers again as it turned chilly.
The roofing work is complete except for some work that needs doing on a cross at the east end, and the plastering work inside the church. It was nice to have the scaffolding down at last, which means we can soon start surveying on the north side of the churchyard.
In the meantime we still have some work to do to finish off the west side memorials – there was some RTI to do, and some locations to plot in.

This picture shows one of the problems with the triangulation method. 

The only secure fixed point is the church building and the lych gate – all other features within the churchyard could conceivably be moved or change position in the future – even a wall, which seems a permanent feature, can be rebuilt or even demolished in future decades. This means that the measuring tape often ends up being stretched across large distances between the fixed points on the church building and the memorial stone being plotted in – the tape tends to bow, and when it’s breezy the bow is exaggerated and the reading becomes much less accurate. Unfortunately due to the nature of a churchyard we couldn’t lay the tape flat on the ground as there are so many other memorial stones in the way!

Some RTI photography was done – we have discovered over several sessions that it is very important to have high-power batteries in the flash units. The high frequency of flashes overheats normal-strength batteries and can even cause the flash unit to stop working properly. We now always use rechargeable Ansmann AA 2850mAh NiMH Digital batteries.

There is also a slightly tricky problem when you have a large number of un-marked burial plots grouped together - how to measure them in? 

We know there are 10 burials here somewhere.....

Since we knew from the grave plans and burial registers the actual number of burials in the row we decided to set out a line of that number of white flags at regular intervals, and measure those in. 

It seemed to work well - a neat and simple solution. 

We had some visitors to the church today – a couple from Ripon who enjoyed a good chat with Sue about the church and its history; and two ladies who had come to see their family graves and follow up on some family history. We were able to share information and show them our village genealogical database on the laptop computer. Working on a churchyard project is certainly a useful way of making contact with visitors, and encouraging them to appreciate local heritage.

Jane Lunnon

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Wednesday 6th July 2016

We spent much of the day finishing off the surveying and recording of the west side of the churchyard. Most of the modern graves are here so they are quite easy to record – despite being prone to occasional changes as new burials are made!

Their design tends to be quite homogeneous - sadly contemporary English gravestones are far less likely than Scottish ones to emphasise the individuality of the deceased person. I spent part of my holiday in northern Scotland recently wandering around graveyards (strange woman!) and was impressed by the ingenuity of some of the newer memorials, and moved by the little personal touches often put onto them. However, happily there are a couple of recent gravestones at St Mary's which celebrate individuality - for example, a lover of cricket is commemorated with a little carving of a cricket ball, wicket and bat. 

Repairs to the church roof are nearly completed and we are hoping the scaffolding will come down soon so we can start work on the north side.

In the meantime we have plenty to do setting up the documentary records taking the information from the fieldwork forms – this is a good opportunity for some people to extend their computing skills! Now the weather is warmer we can work inside the church on our laptops. 

Work is progressing well and we are still on schedule, which is surprising considering the delays caused by weather, technical problems, the roof work and having to work around the timetable of an active, living church. 

Jane Lunnon