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Northallerton MIs, Report to the Board of Health 1849


'Burial Grounds - There are two burial grounds in the town, viz the churchyard of All Saints, obtained by immemorial occupation, and an unconsecrated ground. The area of the Church yard, including the site of the church is 1 acre, 1 rood 10 perches; it is from 3 to 5 feet above the level of the street and enclosed by a wall.

The vicar in his second paragraph states "It has more than once been proposed to enlarge the churchyard, though, in comparison with many churchyards in towns, it cannot be called crowded with graves. The late sexton told me it was his practice never to disturb a grave till 20 years had elapsed; and, I have never seen any more recent indications of previous burial, rarely ever any remains of wood from coffins. I must leave it to those more able than myself to decide as to the expediency of sepulture in town, even under the most favourable circumstances, and will only mention facts: that I have never heard any complaint made of offensive or injurious smells proceeding at any time from any part of the churchyard: that the coffins are ordinarily place only four feet deep in the ground.

Upon the whole I shall gladly concur in any proposition for improvement in regard to burials, whether it be an order from the General Board of Health as to the mode of interment, or a recommendation to the parishioners to procure burying grounds removed from the church and houses of the town. I earnestly hope the result of your visit of inspection will be the adoption of some measures for the sanitary improvement of the town.

Signed T Burnett Stewart."

W Hirbank stated - "I have assisted in digging graves for the last 10 years. The common depth is 4 feet, but in some instances have dug 5 feet. The late sexton frequently complained of the alluvium arising during the time of digging. The total number of burials from 1681 to 1837, both inclusive, amounted to 7,490 and in the following years to 1849:

(up to Oct 11)

Number of Headstones314
Number of Tombs77
Number of Mounds1,544

The sexton generally receives the orders for interment and consults the friends of the deceased as to the site for the grave.

The soil is in most parts black and gravel underneath, but never gets down to the water; has no means of ascertaining if there is room for a grave, except by digging down. The practice is now to dig between the old graves, but even here bones and remains of coffins are met with. The coffins are usually made of American fir; has no instance lately made a grave without disturbing the remains of previous burials, and removed as many as five skulls in getting down a single grave. Having once commenced a grave he digs through everything he meets with.

Mr Fowle stated "I have seen graves made, and looked into one hole dug at the south east corner of the ground close against the wall separating the church yard from the public road and this grave terminated about one foot above the level of the said road."

Mr Reed stated "The burial grounds attached to the independents' chapel was first use for burials in 1836 but the number is not known."'

Extract from Ingledew's History of Northallerton, 1858

'Following the ordering of the church yard to be closed by the Secretary of State, the site of the castle to the west of the church was bought to be used as a cemetery. The southern half of this land was consecrated on the 20 September 1856 by Bishop Spencer (formerly of Madras), while the Northern half was used for dissenters. Two chapels were built in which the funeral services were held in.'

Transcription, Indexing and Plan by
Robert Walker.© 1996

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