The Quakers' grave

Burton, Wirral

Several reasons existed in the past for the excommunication and the eventual subsequent unconsecrated burials of particular individuals. These 'offences' ranged from non-attendance at the local church through sexual immorality to membership of a minority faith.

Today, Quakerism is regarded as one of the meekest of faiths, but this was not true in the past. It was originally viewed with extreme suspicion and its adherents were perceived as being in league with the devil himself.

In fairness many of these ideas were self inflicted as anyone who reads about early Quakers will soon realise. Such antics as appearing naked in the aisles of Westminster Abbey during a service were hardly likely to improve their standing within the established church.

Rejecting all forms of self display, Quakers commonly established independent burial grounds, scorning, for example, tombstones in their belief that they represented the pagan idea that a heavy stone would prevent the spirit of the deceased returning and haunting them. Tombstones, it should be remembered, were originally laid flat upon the ground. Their interments were usually undertaken without ceremony and often without any subsequent identification of the dead person.

Today isolated graves can be found in many locations. Although the evidence for the two graves in Burton Woods is tenuous, they are commonly believed to be the those of two Quakers, possibly a man and wife. They were originally sited centrally across the footpath through the woods, supposedly so that those who stood on their hearts whilst they were alive might trample on their heads in death.

All that has survived of the inscription is

The Body of ELL................ 1663

Location

The two graves lie alongside each other adjacent to the footpath through Burton Woods on the Wirral peninsular. They can be found about two hundred metres behind the churchyard in Burton itself.