Friends of Raikes Road Burial Ground

With kind support from Skipton Town Council.

Spring 2021

OPEN DAY – SATURDAY 24TH JULY, 2021 - 10.30 am to 3 pm


We will open (subject to prevailing restrictions) on this date with free guided walks at 11 am and 2 pm. There is no charge but we welcome donations towards our volunteer work.


Records will be available for those who want to check if they have relatives buried in Raikes Road. Please note that because of old damage to the site and its terrain, limitations apply regarding open access for safety reasons.


The last year


As with everything else, the Burial Ground has been closed and over the last year with the pandemic, it has just been a case of monitoring the site.


By April 2021, we were able to organise a series of Working Parties and these have been very successful, resulting in a lot of much-needed work being done.  We were also able to use the new strimmer which the Friends had purchased with the generous help of Skipton Mechanics. This has proved invaluable on a site which has plenty of holes, hidden stones etc.  


Wildflowers like bluebells have continued to thrive and the tree planting exercise we undertook before the pandemic with the help of the Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust is also surviving and thriving.


We have undertaken clearance of some of the kerbs and edgings of the gravestones so that we have a better idea of what plots looked like and, on occasions, finding a stonemason’s name.

Right: Forget-me-nots - a lovely flower and aptly named in a cemetery


Left: Work on the Leathley family grave reveals kerbing, although part of it has sunk. The top of the main stone has been damaged in the past. The remaining top 'stump' could indicate part of a stone cross


Bottom right: Friends putting in plants around the Kipling grave

Story from the Stone


One of the graves cleared this year was of the Rev. Edwin Biddick. The photo below shows a substantial kerbed area and within it was found metal pieces which have been left on the soil. These are the remnants of iron railings which surrounded the grave. At the bottom of the photo, marks of where they were placed can be seen. It is understood that the railings were removed from this and many of the graves – as well as houses - apparently for use in the Second World War.


The inscription reads:


Rev. E.B. Biddick

11 April 1870


His Wife

Interred at St. James Cemetery


5 Dec 1874


The Rev. Edwin Brice Biddick was only 36 years old when he died in 1870. Before coming to Skipton, to assist the Rev. P.C. Kidd as a Clerk at the Parish Church, he had been a teacher of would-be Clerks/Vicars, having been Principal of the Carmarthen and South Wales Training College at Carmarthen but by 1861 he was an Assistant Master at the York and Ripon Diocesan Training School for Clergymen. He was also a Freemason in York.


His wife, Elizabeth, was the daughter of John Jackson Starkey, a Merchant from Liverpool who died in 1852 in San Francisco. What he was doing there is unknown but he may have been taking commercial advantage of the gold rush.


After the Rev. Biddick died, Elizabeth returned to her home city but as by now both her parents were dead, she took up residence in a smart lodging house, where she is described as an “Annuitant”. She probably had money of her own as the Rev. Biddick left less than £100 when he died.



In 1873, she re-married to a widower, William Southall, who, like her father, was also a Merchant.


The Rev. Kidd travelled from Skipton to Liverpool to officiate at their wedding which seems surprising until it is known that Elizabeth was his wife’s niece, being the granddaughter of Henry Alcock, Mrs. Kidd’s father, who built Aireville (now Skipton Academy).


The marriage was short-lived as Elizabeth was only 34 years old when she died in December 1874. Strictly speaking, the inscription on Rev. Biddick’s stone is not correct as she was not his wife – or widow – when she died, but as the inscription tactfully excludes her second married name, perhaps this is just a small quibble.


Elizabeth does not have her own gravestone in Liverpool but is interred in the Starkey family vault, noting that she was the beloved wife of William Southall.


The position of the Biddick gravestone is next to the Rev. Kidd and his family, including Sarah Kidd, Elizabeth’s aunt and sister of her mother.