Saturday, July 11th saw our grand Opening Ceremony, following the conclusion of the Heritage Lottery funded-project. We were fortunate to have the Skipton Town Mayor, Councillor Gordon Bell (accompanied by his Consort, Mrs. Bell) formally re-open the cemetery in the presence of Councillor R. Mason, Chairman of Craven District Council, and the Rector, the Rev. Veronica James. Also present were representatives of other religious and local organisations and the Heritage Lottery Fund, together with a number of Friends.
The Rector gave a short service in the afternoon as a re-dedication of the Burial Ground, also producing a leaflet to commemorate the day. The weather was very kind and we were fortunate to welcome over 100 visitors who were able to take part in guided walks and find out more information about the Friends and also read the newly-installed information boards. Guests and visitors were invited to take part in the light refreshments provided throughout the day.
We were also fortunate to have present one of our Friends, Mr. G. Sharwood-Smith, from Scotland and his relative from London. Mr. Sharwood-Smith generously donated the new seat and plaque in the Ground which commemorates his family, descendants of Thomas and Ann Mitchell, who are buried in Raikes Road. Mr. Sharwood-Smith has also been kind enough to share his family archive with us, some of which appears on the information boards.
We were also privileged to welcome Mr. Michael Green, the great-great-great grandson of the Rev. Joseph Kipling, Rudyard Kipling’s grandfather. This was truly the “icing on the cake” of a very special day.
A big thank you to Les Chandler, Project Manager at Skipton Town Council, who was instrumental in obtaining the funding as well as doing much work and to Skipton Town Council as a whole who have given practical help and support. A final thank you to all the people who have encouraged us with the Project and not least, the Friends and others who have given practical help to bring it to a successful conclusion.
The Opening Ceremony marks a staging post in the ongoing work. In late October, yellow rattle is to be planted to disperse some of the grass in the Ground, making for ease of maintenance. It is also hoped to undertake a “clean and expose” exercise to clear the Chapel site of vegetation and to see if there is any indication of the two –cell structure identified by earlier geophysical work.
On-going surveys are to continue, especially on the fungi at this time of the year. This site has a rich ecology and as the Friends are keen to emphasise, we have inherited not only a splendid Victorian cemetery but, because of the neglect, an ecological treasure and so it is important to seek a balance between the two.
We are also looking forwarded to being able to identify the inscriptions on some of the faded gravestones through the use of the technique and software developed by the Digital Imaging Unit at York University.