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We’ve achieved a lot in the last year but as will be realised, with a site which is over 170 years old and neglected for many years before the Friends were formed, there is still much to be done, some of which we hope to achieve in 2020.
Apart from the Friends who give their time voluntarily, we have been fortunate to have volunteers from Bowman Riley Architects, Skipton and Skipton Building Society who have allowed us the use of their time. We are grateful to both companies but particularly to their employees who turned up and worked cheerfully and very hard.
At different times, the groups cleared two overgrown areas. The results speak for themselves in the photographs below. This work has not only allowed us to see what the full extent of the family plots, but also plant bee-friendly cuttings to encourage the bee population in the Ground. We were fortunate to have a survey by Maurice White, bee specialist, who found we had a very limited number of bees.
The Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust, through their Officer Catherine Mercer, kindly provided the plants and it is hoped they will start to become established in 2020, when we hope to see more bees.
Late autumn 2019 saw more tree planting on site, which the saplings kindly being supplied by the Woodland Trust.
Above: Left and middle, clearance work on the Morville family plot revealed a kerbed edge (part missing) and two identical stones. The volunteers from Skipton Building Society, above right.
Below: Left and middle, the Bowman Riley volunteers working on the Cragg grave area where clearance allows the grave plots to be seen more clearly. Spring flowers - snow drops and budding daffodils in the Cragg grave area in February 2020, below right.
Monuments and Masonry
The Friends have continued to investigate the information on the monuments and to clear more stones but this is very much ongoing work. Some of the monuments are in need of stabilisation, especially the Greenwood grave, one of our larger monuments but which suffers from being on the sloping side of the Ground. Repairs have also been done to the boundary wall and so maintenance has been to the fore.
John Greenwood’s monument (right) is the second largest remaining on site. The gap which has appeared underneath it can clearly be seen. Mr. Greenwood was a Wine Merchant and entrepreneur. He built the Albion pub on Otley Street and the row of houses just beyond it. Above an arch on the row can be seen an old stone saying “Greenwood’s Terrace” and a date stone of 1855. He died in 1859. It will cost £1,000 to stabilise his monument
Local Green Space
Craven District Council’s Local Plan was being evaluated by the Planning Inspectorate in Autumm 2019 and initially, the Inspector decided that Park Hill, behind the Burial Ground, should not be designated a “local green space” as the Council had requested. As this was the only area around the Burial Ground which had not been developed (there is an ongoing development on the site of the Catholic Church), and because of the pressure on our ecology and site, the Friends lodged an objection as did other people and groups in Skipton. It is pleasing to report that the Inspector revisited the decision and Park Hill has the designation.
We were also fortunate in having a full copy of the original Burial Register (the only formal record we have of the Ground) was provided to us by North Yorkshire Council Archives in Northallerton. Our thanks to them. One of our Friends spent much time and effort on transcribing it into an easily-accessible format. As a result of this work and to show to the public what we had done in the Ground, an Information Day was organised last year in Skipton Parish Church (right), the venue kindly provided to us by the Rector and Churchwardens.
We were able to show visitors displays of the work and findings, a drone-flyover of the Ground and also help visitors to see if they had any relatives in Raikes Road. We had a lot of interest and attracted a few new friends, as well as finding relatives for those who came in. In an interesting twist, one of the visitors was investigating their family member, only to find that one of the Friends also had the same relative!
Our Open Days in 2020 will take place on the following dates from 10.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. when anyone can come and visit (only stipulations are stout footwear and to tread carefully!) and there will be guided walks, lasting around 40 minutes at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
9th May (to coincide with National Cemeteries Week)
We hope to be offering a special event for the September date to coincide with Heritage Open Days. Watch this space!