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Barwick in Elmet, All Saints Churchyard:
Memorial Inscriptions

Barwicker No.113

On Saturday the 12th October 2013 about a dozen members met at ten in the morning at Jubilee Gardens on Elmwood Lane to record the memorial inscriptions on the gravestones in the now disused Churchyard. The rain which had fallen overnight made for some slightly muddy patches but it held off during the day and all memorials were recorded by two thirty in the afternoon.

This was the first phase of a project the Society is undertaking to record, index and photograph all the memorials from the churchyards of All Saints' Parish Church, Barwick in Elmet. Once finished the records will be deposited in the Society's resource room with a copy given to the Churchwardens. This work needs to be completed as soon as possible, many of the memorials are broken into pieces, the lettering on some has worn away through wind, rain and frost damage. Some have been moved from their original locations, some have been laid flat and now form paths around the churchyards, standing water and countless shoes hastening the erosion of the inscriptions.

Whilst the paper and parchment Parish Registers, safely deposited in Leeds Archives in Morley, record all the burials from the seventieth century to the present day they include only basic details, a name, date and sometimes age and address. Many of the memorial stones include much additional detail; family relationships, occupations, histories and verses. The earliest date so far discovered on a memorial is to William Taite, he was born about 1717 and died in 1787.

The memorials have been recorded in the past, the main churchyard in 1908 and 1982 and Jubilee Gardens in c1977 and 1982. All the previous transcriptions have problems, either missing areas, recording only basic details or are in draft form and contain many errors. Jubilee Gardens was chosen as phase 1 of the project as a pilot, it has 58 memorials and allowed the recording techniques, processes and documents to the be tested. It is sometimes mistakenly called the Methodist churchyard, however it is a detached part of All Saints' Churchyard.

It opened in 1849, no doubt due to the area immediately around the Church having become full with a 1000 years worth of burials having taken place. (see Barwicker no 73 - March 2004 for details of its opening). By 1897 it had also become full and a northern extension to the current churchyard was opened. Occasional burials in existing family plots continued until about 1935. The area become very overgrown, rubbish was dumped and most of the graves were untended. In 1969 Parish Councillor T. Kirk said "It's nothing but a junk heap. It is overgrown and I would say the biggest eye-sore in Barwick. I am ashamed of it."

This situation continued until the mid to late 1970s when the area was cleared and turned into a garden for the use of the village, some memorial stones were removed, most however were laid flat. The area was renamed Jubilee Gardens to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth 11 in 1977. In the 1990s Barwick in Bloom started to tend the garden and this continues to the present day with the area an asset to the village.

From the memorials recorded on the 12th October one of the most interesting is the following:

SACRED to the Memory of
who was struck dead by lightning
during a severe thunder storm
July 5th 1852, Aged 15 Years.
Cut down and wither'd in his prime
By lightning struck, he fell
No warning given, he had not time
To bid his friends farewell.

Miller of this place.
Father of the above
Who died Decr 10th 1865 Aged 70 Years.

For more information about Joseph Warrington's death see Barwicker No 1, March 1986.

The project to record the remaining areas of All Saint's Churchyard will continue when the weather improves in the spring, T hope that as many members as possible will get involved "many hands make light work", please let me know if you are interested.

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