Following publicity in the Craven Herald in February (which you can view on the Craven Herald website), there has been much interest in the work of the Friends and it is encouraging that people have come forward with support and offers of practical help.
Spring in the Ground has brought forth some early cherry blossom and, as can be seen from the display in the Cragg family area, a splendid array of snowdrops. This photograph highlights the damage to this part of the Ground which we hope, at some stage in the future, to repair.
We are pleased to announce that Craven District Council awarded the Friends a grant of £1,100 from the Localism Fund. Many thanks to the Council for this and for the support which we had from other people and groups in the community. It is an excellent start on the sum of £10,000 which we want to raise to carry out the work of tidying the Ground, making the stones safe and tree work, as well as putting a path in, providing interpretative boards and undertaking archaeological work on the sites of the old Chapel and Mortuary.
Cragg family area, with splendid array of snowdrops
We had two very good days enhanced by the warm weather, especially on Sunday. A number of Friends kindly turned up to help but we could not have managed without Les and Mark from Skipton Town Council who provided (and erected) the gazebo, table and chairs, as well as leaflets.
The events were run in conjunction with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Cherished Graveyards’ week and we were pleased to have a visit from Elizabeth Hardcastle, the Trust’s Officer for wildlife in graveyards, who had come from York. Amongst the visitors was a fungi expert who was able to identify two species found in the Ground. Apparently, there would have been more, but the heavy growth of grass prevents this.
The level of interest in the site from the 50 or so visitors shows that the Project is a worthwhile one and will add considerably to Skipton’s heritage. Thanks to all who helped.
At the July meeting of the Friends, we were able to discuss a detailed work plan with a view to getting working parties together to undertake various pieces of work for the Restoration Project.
Geophysical survey (right) to identify the Chapel remains. Ann Wilkinson leading the work, with husband Stuart (right) and Peter Gallagher.
The good summer weather has allowed a geophysics survey to be undertaken by Friends, who are also volunteers at Lister Lane Cemetery in Halifax. The aim was to see if we could identify the underground remains of the Chapel using the electricity resistivity equipment. There is nothing to identify it above ground, just a general idea of where it might have been using old maps. The 1891 Ordnance survey map in particular shows it – and the Mortuary site – quite clearly (see right).
Following the work, it has now been possible to identify where the Chapel was on the site and the initial findings seem to show a small, two-cell building, which we will hopefully investigate at some stage in the future.
In a letter to the former mayor, Mrs Robinson said: “It was a day I shall treasure. Never in my wildest dreams could I think this could happen to me in Skipton, my home town, after all these years.” Mr Parker, the council's chief officer, said: “She knew a tremendous amount about the town and how it had changed over the years. She had some very strong views on things that are happening locally, but most of all, she now knows exactly who and what lies behind the mysterious walls of Raikes Road Burial Ground.”
Mrs Robinson was shown around the grounds by Jean Robinson, no relation, who is chairman of the new Friends of Raikes Road Burial Ground, which will oversee the restoration work. For further details please refer to the Craven Herald article.
“You could not see into it, because the wall on Raikes Road was so high and the gates were always locked with a padlock,” she said. She went on to say how she hoped the burial ground, which she described as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Skipton would be opened, but that she doubted she would ever get to see it. Mrs. Robinson has relatives buried in Raikes Road; she is seen standing beside the gravestone of her ancestors, William and Ann Phillip. She is related to Jeremiah Phillip who ran the Red Lion Inn in and who is commemorated in the name of Jerry Croft behind the Town Hall.
Her letter was read by officers at Skipton Town Council, who arranged for her to visit and have a tour of the burial ground, which has recently received grant funding for improvements to access and signage. Mrs Robinson also had tea with the Mayor in the refectory at Holy Trinity Church, and enjoyed a tour of the town hall and council chamber.
In July, 2013 an article appeared in the Craven Herald following a visit to Skipton by former resident Alice Robinson, who now lives in Rotherham and who is in her 90s. She still gets the paper and wrote after reading about plans to refurbish the Raikes Road Burial Ground and open it to the public. In her letter, she recalled writing to the paper as a child about the burial ground and how a high wall had prevented her seeing who was buried there.