Friday, 26 May 2017

26 May 2016

We have all been busy with our work on the churchyard survey – including  more data input sessions in a bid to complete the Grave Reference Sheets. I think the end is in sight for these, although there are still a lot to type up yet.
In the meantime some of us have been visiting more graveyards.

The Stearns gravitated towards a number of them while on holiday in Norfolk recently – their daughter had a job keeping up with Sue’s demands for photographs and now has a camera full of gravestone images. Not what she expected to bring back from holiday!

I took advantage of a recent open day at the Raikes Road Burial Ground in Skipton. This intriguing urban burial ground is being lovingly restored and investigated by an enthusiastic local group. A book has now been published on Raikes Road, written by Jean Robinson of the Friends of Raikes Road Burial Ground. It’s well presented and gives a very interesting collection of stories about the people buried here.

For more information see their website:

I made the most out of the opportunity to take lots of photos in a bid to see how much similarity there is between the gravestones here and those at St Mary’s Embsay. And it was immediately obvious that there were many similarities - and many differences. Look, for instance at this carving of an angel that is at Raikes Road...

 And this one, which is in St Mary’s, Embsay.

Remarkably similar, but with subtle differences indicating this is the work of a craftsman, rather than that of a commercial workshop mass producing memorial templates.

This memorial at Raikes Road is badly eroded, and the original imagery is missing. 

But happily, we can find a similar design at St Mary's Embsay, and assume that the original at Raikes Road looked something like this:

This highlights just a couple of the benefits of extending our investigation of gravestones beyond our own parochial boundary, something that we would very much like to do.

Jane Lunnon 

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

2nd May 2017

We have been quietly busy with the creation of the grave reference sheets over the past few weeks – meeting at Sue’s house to share data input sessions. We have had some particularly complicated queries arising from the grave references of the past couple of weeks – suddenly we seemed to have a crop of 2nd husbands and second or even third wives. Sometimes it’s not easy working out who was buried with whom, and why someone with a completely different surname is found in the same burial plot – or why, for example, a man and his daughter were buried in an un-marked grave in part of the churchyard, while his wife and another daughter were buried in another plot a hundred yards away. We were only aware of the connection because the mother and daughter’s headstone commemorated all four. We have found several similar instances where headstone epitaphs have misled us into thinking someone was buried where actually they are not!

The village genealogical database has been so very helpful in untangling some of these anomalies.

High Cross at Grinton Church in Sawleale
Not that we becoming obsessed with gravestones, of course, but to celebrate 40 years since the day we first met, my husband and I spent the day exploring churchyards in beautiful Swaledale recently.

A bold statement from Gunnerside Methodist Chapel
We found considerable similarities in many headstones with those of Wharfedale, but also some local styles that we haven’t yet seen around Craven or Upper Wharfedale, such as the "House" shaped headstones.
A rather more modest example of a "house" style memorial stone at Muker Church

Jane Lunnon