Today there is a basic assumption that our final inevitable heavenward journey will commence at the local cemetery from within neatly manicured rows of pristinely similar monuments. Indeed, since 1828 this has more or less been the norm, health and environmental issues effectively stymieing alternative options.
However, prior to this date there was no compulsion to follow any particular convention when disposing of cadavers and the phrase buried at will is frequently encountered by those studying parish records.
Sadly the relentless march of progress has exacted its toll on such sites, and today only few remain as reminders of the unlucky, the unfortunate, the eccentric or the plain bizarre.
It is to these remaining sites that my researches extend. To date I have identified some 100 unconsecrated graves, having the stories behind roughly half of them. They can be found on roadsides, in fields, in gardens and even in a pub, where imbibers sit around a headstone set in the middle of the lounge.
In the past many graves have been forgotten, and there is a danger even now that the history behind many of them could be lost. Around the country there are often people who know of a grave, and perhaps maintain it to stop it from being lost. My aim is to record for posterity the stories and local history behind these burials.
I have details of more graves than those described here, but these are not online yet. I hope to put more details here when I get the chance. If you are know of or come across any other unconsecrated graves, I would be delighted to hear about them... especially if you can tell me the story behind them! You can contact me here .
The text of these articles is copyright Paul Grantham, please get in touch with me if you would like to use any of them elsewhere.