Case Studies

Three members of the Friends of Raikes Road Burial Ground examine a ledger stone.

Friends of Raikes Road Burial Ground

The Friends of Raikes Road Burial Ground originally wanted to clear up their overgrown and underloved burial space. This spawned a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to set up a small project to restore the burial ground, which led to a community excavation of a subterranean mortuary, the installation of interpretation boards, and set of ongoing ecological surveys. The focus of attention has now widened to the precursor to Raikes Road - the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church in Skipton. There they have devised their own recording methodology for documenting inscriptions and matching hundreds of moved ledger stones with their paper burial records.

Members of the Embsay with Eastby Research Group conduct RTI photography on a gravestone.

Embsay with Eastby Research Group

Developing from an interest in documenting memorials at their local church, the Embsay with Eastby - Historical Research group (a working group within the Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group) have become keen burial space researchers. Through their relationship with the project and its precursors, they have developed their own methods and approaches to surveying and RTI photography. Their work has now expanded to other churchyards, and to support other local groups in North Yorkshire and beyond. This breadth and depth of experience has proven invaluable in informing the development of DEBS resources.

Two gravestones in Leavesden Hospital cemetery

Leavesden Hospital History Association

Leavesden Hospital History Association (LHHA) was founded in 2011 by Martin Brooks and works towards preserving the history and cultural heritage of the of Leavesden Asylum/Hospitals (1870-1995) and several other institutions which occupied a 180 acre site in Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire. The LHHA is frequently contacted by individuals who are looking for information about family members who they believe are buried in the Hospitals cemeteries. Consequently, the cemetery grounds and its burial records have become a focal point of the LHHA’s cemetery renovation and conservation works, which commenced in early 2019. Supported by the local council and its recent National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, the LHHA has recorded a number of oral histories from former staff of the hospital, but there are still questions over how to properly research, record and make public information about those people who are at rest in the cemetery.

Seven members of the St Matthew's Churchyard working group

Friends of St Matthew's Churchyard, Lightcliffe

Formed in 2012, the Friends of St Matthew’s Churchyard have worked hard to clear overgrown vegetation and make the churchyard respectable and respected. With the support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, they’ve installed interpretation boards and developed a short walking tour. They have also created an index of all graves, which is searchable online. The churchyard has recently experienced a surge of visitors, as it contains the graves of many people dramatised in the BBC television series Gentleman Jack, including that of Ann Walker.

The Slingsby group receive tuition on how to record gravestones

Slingsby Local History Group

Like many local history groups around the country, the Slingsby group meet regularly to hear about recent research by members and visiting speakers. They have created a series of exhibitions and publications as well as tours and trails of the village for residents, visitors and the local school. The village church was recently awarded money from the National Lottery (Heritage Fund) to effect urgent repairs and develop a new Local History Resource Centre and exhibition area within the building, opening it up to new uses and new user communities.

Although the group has undertaken research on individuals and families within the village, there has been no systematic survey of the monuments and memorials within the churchyard. The group are therefore interested in using the survey to understand the significance of their churchyard, and as the foundation for further research and future exhibitions.

Gravestones at The Retreat, York

York Area Quakers

York Area Quakers oversee several important historic burial grounds. These are accompanied by meticulous historical records and plans, most of which are accessible online. Members of the group have also undertaken an extensive photographic survey of gravestones, in an effort to document the inscriptions before they become unreadable through age and weathering.