Sunday, 28 April 2013

Disappearing Gravestones

As you enter the graveyard behind St Wilfrid's RC Church in the Lancashire town of Longridge, you face a lawned area with a handful of memorials on view. Look closer and you might notice what appear to be stepping stones of various sizes. They are not. The stones are headstones that have, in the past, been laid flat to - I presume - allow for easier mowing of the grass.

While this sort of thing is increasingly done across Britain, I have a concern. In the case of Longridge, many of the headstones, which bear the names of individuals and family members who have died and are being commemorated, are being overgrown and could end up lost to view. I find this disrespectful and hope something is done to uncover the headstones. I photographed several examples which include some fine examples of cemetery symbolism. If anyone knows who is responsible for the upkeep of the graveyard, I would be interested to know.


Billy Blue Eyes said...

Headstones can be a problem in cemetery's and churchyards. They start to fall over and are laid flat so they don't fall on people or the older ones seem to sink in the ground which is why you see bit's sticking up. We has one brake off as a person walked past last year. It just fell one the poor guy and caused him a lot of problems. The stone was old and had cracked near the base the rain and frost did the rest then one day over it went he just happened to be buy it as it went. I agree something should be done but councils leave it to the relatives and if there is none they get forgotten about or just moved out of the way and lost.

SeaThreePeeO said...

So sad. So much is being lost.

If the churchyard has closed to burials then it falls to the Local Authority for upkeep.

You can complain, but it is doubtful much will happen as many local councils simply do not have the money or manpower to maintain these graveyards properly.

However should the churchyard contain any commonwealth war graves then you can complain to them about the upkeep of the graveyard.

Beneath Thy Feet

SeaThreePeeO said...

Just popping back to say thank you for linking up with Cemetery Sunday

Beneath Thy Feet

Unknown said...

Thanks for the great article on the upkeep of cemeteries. When I went home this summer to take pics of our family plot we could only find the big headstone and the plaques on the floor were overgrown and no telling how far down. We only knew this because of how often our family visits. My cousin talked to the office and they said it was our responsibility. Very upset over this.m you brought upma good point about the military service. My uncle who has a bronze star should be brought to the attention of the local military clubs. I also read another article that whomever pays the taxes is responsible. It's a very sad situation considering most of us only visit once a year because we have all moved.

Paul D. Swarbrick said...

So true, this is such an increasing problem with today's graveyards. There is so much history being lost too. I recently removed the overgrowth on a couple of adjacent graves in the graveyard of St. Leonard's church in Balderstone and discovered that they were the graves of Thomas Batty Addison and his brother John who were both very prominent and distinguished prothonotaries of the 19th Century in Preston and Clitheroe.

I've often wondered how many other people of significance from the past are buried in overgrown and lost graves never to be seen again.
It appears to me that it will take a great many volunteers to undertake the task of clearing all the overgrown graves as I shouldn't think any authority would do it due to the budget cuts and such.

Paul D. Swarbrick.

Welcome to the Graveyard Detective

An illustrated look at the World of Graveyards and Cemeteries. There are many Stories behind the Stones that Stand in them. Who knows what we might find?


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