Graves may have to be dug up

GRAVES could be dug up and re-used once an agreed extension to a controversial burial site in Essex becomes full, it has been revealed.The burial ground at Brightlingsea hit the headlines across the globe when its then vicar, The Reverend Richard Salenius, decided to close the town's All Saints churchyard for future burials.

By Roddy Ashworth

GRAVES could be dug up and re-used once an agreed extension to a controversial burial site in Essex becomes full, it has been revealed.

The burial ground at Brightlingsea hit the headlines across the globe when its then vicar, The Reverend Richard Salenius, decided to close the town's All Saints churchyard for future burials.

Relations between the parish council and the Parochial Church Council (PCC) of All Saints and St James became strained after the decision, causing deep divisions in the community. Eventually, Mr Salenius resigned as vicar of the church.


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Yesterday, the PCC agreed in principle with proposals for am 18m by 40m extension to be added to the existing site which would provide enough space for further burials for the next 10 years.

The extension proposed is a small tract of land to the south of the existing burial ground bordering Gravesend Wood, Moverons Lane and farmland.

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The site was chosen by the town council following a decision by George Pullman QC, Chancellor of the Diocese of Chelmsford, that, while there was no more room for burials at the current 5.9-acre site, there was some land near the existing plot which could be used in the future.

Commenting on the agreement, Lesley Sycamore, lay vice chairman of the PCC, said: “We welcome the town council's offer to gift and maintain this land and we look forward to building an active partnership to serve our community.”

Colin Oliver, mayor of Brightlingsea, said: “The town council is confident that this partnership is in the spirit of goodwill urged by the Chancellor of the Diocese of Chelmsford at the Consistory Court hearing held in Brightlingsea in November 2004.”

But the proposals from the town council also suggest the “re-use of grave space” as a possibility in the future because the agreed extension only has capacity for about 30 new graves.

The report, which is the final proposal document from the town council, said: “Although not favoured at present it is possible that, given the success of the partnership arrangement with the council, the PCC might agree to re-use in the future.

“Assuming that there is no direction through the review of burial law requiring re-use of grave spaces in churchyards after a number of years, there needs to be a long term solution to prevent the present 'crisis' being repeated in the future.”

The council hopes that the new extension will be available for additional burials by the end of the year. The town council has offered to foot the bill for works to make the land suitable for a churchyard extension and to provide a replacement access for farmer David Scott.

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