New twist in graveyard row

A TOWN council has said it is working to heal the rifts in its community after a protracted battle over the closure of a church graveyard.All Saint's Church in Brightlingsea was closed to burials in March 2004 by the Reverend Richard Salenius, who declared the churchyard full.

By Annie Davidson

A TOWN council has said it is working to heal the rifts in its community after a protracted battle over the closure of a church graveyard.

All Saint's Church in Brightlingsea was closed to burials in March 2004 by the Reverend Richard Salenius, who declared the churchyard full.

The decision caused deep divisions in the close-knit community and was strongly opposed by Brightlingsea Town Council.


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A rarely-convened church court was held in November last year and George Pullman, QC, Chancellor of the Diocese of Chelmsford, ruled that there was no further space for burials.

But now the town council is hoping to develop a piece of land next to All Saints to create an extension of the churchyard.

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A public meeting was held to discuss the issue on Friday and a planning application for the new site will be submitted to Tendring District Council in the near future.

In a statement, town mayor Colin Olivier said: “Following the public meeting on Friday to discuss All Saints' Churchyard and the Consistory Court judgement, I have decided, after consulting with members of the town council, to open up a dialogue with the Archdeacon and the Parochial Church Council to progress the extension proposal outlined at the public meeting.

“The proposal is for the council to finance an extension to the south of the existing churchyard, to allow burials in new plots to recommence.

“This would allow a parishioner's right to be buried in the parish churchyard to be exercised once more.

“It is estimated that the extension will be sufficient for at least 10 years.

“Whilst the capacity of the extension will be limited, the council believes it is justified in funding the extension because circumstances could change during the 10-year period including a change in burial law to allow burials in the churchyard in perpetuity.

“On behalf of the town council I would like to thank the Archdeacon of Colchester, the Venerable Annette Cooper, for her encouragement at the public meeting, and her willingness to discuss the proposed extension in a working way and explore together with us the best way forward.

“In order to facilitate a speedy provision of the extension a planning application will be made as soon as possible to seek approval for the land use changes.

“We believe that our proposal accords with the comments made by the Chancellor in the court judgement and will begin the process of reconciliation and the healing of rifts within our community.”

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