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Archiver > ESSEX-UK > 2004-09 > 1096441470

From: "colleen morrison" <>
Subject: Re: Restoring graves in Essex Graveyards - was Wrabness cage
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2004 08:04:42 +0100
References: <> <000101c4a57f$194999a0$749afea9@b7z7r6>

I'm sometimes asked by overseas listers to help locate the old graves of
their ancestors' graves in our rural Essex churchyards and generally warn
them in advance that such searches in our, often overgrown and run down
graveyards, may be unsuccessful. Aside from the fact that very few of our
ancestors could afford headstones, the illegible state of many inscriptions
on the weathered remains of those that do exist make them indecipherable.
The porous materials used in Essex tend to weather badly, unfortunately.

Many old memorials have been removed by the church for reuse or development
of sections of the graveyard, though some are left standing around the walls
of the building or edges of the graveyard. Though some churches, like the
Congregational church at Tiptree, have at least had the decency to put a
combined memorial in the graveyard giving details of which graves were
removed, so the names are still there though the inscriptions are lost.

Quite a lot of headstones that remain, even in the tended part of the
graveyard, are often covered with so much moss and embedded ivy which cannot
be removed without risking the remains of the inscription crumbling away.
The graveyards of some churches, like St Peter's, Great Totham, also contain
a lot of iron memorials which are badly rusted.

However in recent years, probably partly thanks to the popularity of family
history, I've noticed that quite a few old memorials have been restored. At
St Peter's, a number of iron memorials have been restored by family and
ancestors, and formerly rusty and illegible memorials have been given a new
lease of life, restoring them to the black and white painted works of art
they once were, and as legible as the day they were made. Well done to those
churches that allow this.

A distant cousin of mine in Tiptree has made an excellent job of restoring a
family grave in the churchyard there. If all family historians who have the
means to do so such undertook such restorations, it might send a 'leave our
family graves alone' signal to church authorities.

Graveyards are important, not just to our family history community, but, as
Carol rightly states, overgrown parts of graveyards which so many church
authorities are selling off for development often provide vital protective
and foraging habitat for our Essex wildlife. These include protected,
'heritage creatures' like badgers which are so persecuted and threatened in
Essex by the reckless over development of our county these days. Around
47,000 of Britain's 300,000 or so badger population die on our roads each
year, far too many of these are Essex badgers, forced by development to
cross new roads in order to reach or extend their dwindling, ancient
foraging areas. I'm organising a badger protection group in the Harlow
district because we are seeing so many more badgers killed here due to such


----- Original Message -----
From: "Carol Brown" <>
>> The only thing disappointing about Wix's lovely churchyard was the state
> of
>> the farther reaches of it away from the church building itself...I got
>> completely caught up in nettles and brambles and underfoot was very
>> dicey...very sad for such a lovely church.
> But great for wildlife - graveyards are a last refuge in some places.
> Caarol

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