Burial row threatens to reignite

A BITTER row over the closure of a church's graveyard looks to have flared up again. All Saint's Churchyard in Brightlingsea was shut for burials by the Reverend Richard Salenius when he declared there was no space left for the people of the town to bury their dead.

A BITTER row over the closure of a church's graveyard looks to have flared up again.

All Saint's Churchyard in Brightlingsea was shut for burials by the Reverend Richard Salenius when he declared there was no space left for the people of the town to bury their dead.

The decision, in March last year caused deep division in the close-knit community, with the town council claiming there was still space in the six-acre churchyard.

After a series of public meetings failed to settle the argument, a rarely-held consistory court was convened and the Chancellor of the Diocese of Chelmsford upheld the reverend's decision and declared the declared the churchyard full and should be closed.


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But in the latest twist in the long-running saga, the Archdeacon of Colchester, the Venerable Annette Cooper, said a town council plan to fund an extension for more graves was "surprising and premature".

Speaking after All Saint's annual meeting last week, she said: "The ultimate decision about whether to extend the churchyard rests with the parochial church council.

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"A date was fixed some time ago for me to meet with the town council and churchwardens to begin to explore the right way forward in the spirit of the chancellor's recent judgement that the churchyard is full.

"Since this initial exploratory meeting has not yet taken place, it is somewhat surprising and premature of the town council to have applied for planning consent on land which the town council has previously said should not be used for burial purposes".

But Brightlingsea town councillor Peter Patrick hit back, saying the plot was only very small.

"She is right that we did object previously to the planning application, but the objection before was for six acres of land.

"We are talking about a few metres here and have even identified an area of land that would replace it.

"You have to take the whole thing in context and the explanation is quite straight forward," he said.

When the council proposed the new plan it estimated the extension would be sufficient for burials for "at least 10 years".

The consistory court hearing last November, which was the first of its kind for three years in Essex, was prompted by 90-year-old parishioner, Joe French, after he had been unable to reserve a plot for himself and his wife, Kay.

A meeting between the town council, churchwardens and archdeacon is set for April 30.

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