Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Saturday 10th June 2017

Last autumn we ran the second of our graveyard tours at St Mary’s, Embsay. Since it was overbooked we decided to offer a repeat in the summer. But the weather wasn’t so good in the middle of June as it was last November! The rain meant we had to retreat into the church. Luckily we had been forewarned by the weather forecasters, so three of us hastily put together a slideshow presentation over the previous day and were well prepared to give our “virtual tour” inside the church. We gave the presentation twice so that we could have an audience in the morning and again in the afternoon.

David and I divided the talk between us as usual – the theme was “Saints and Sinners” and we had chosen to tell the life histories of 5 people who are buried at St Mary’s. The individual stories touched upon a wide range of issues from Victorian social history – suicide, health and safety, social class, literacy and self-education, crime, illegitimacy, village politics, infant mortality, the history of photography, and much more. There was a good discussion /Q&A at the end of each presentation, with some interesting observations on the village's history by some long-term residents. 

As I reminded the audience at the end of the talks – through the parish churchyard, you can get closer here to the people who shaped our village communities and local history than anywhere else. Our churchyards are a precious local heritage asset.

Excellent cake, by the way, was provided, along with welcome hot cuppas to keep us warm through the day! 

Jane Lunnon