I WAS appalled to read of the recent comments of Councillor Peter Madeley regarding Raikes Road Burial Ground (Call for fresh look at churchyard's budget, Craven Herald, November 11).

If he has visited it he should realise it is a hidden treasure packed with nuggets of the heritage of Skipton. Every gravestone rests upon a story waiting to be told and the research so far has provided important stories about all classes of Skipton’s ancestors, aside from the headline figures of the Brontes, Kipling et al.

The work of the research team is exemplary and an inspiration to historians across the country.The burial ground is a beautiful place of reflection and a wildlife haven nestling in the outskirts of the town and absolutely worth a visit on one of their open days.

The comments by Cllr Madeley demonstrate a lack of understanding of the importance of the heritage of the town and the difficult situation the volunteers face. The burial ground is not attached to a practising church so does not have the support of a church community to help maintain it.

The dedicated volunteers are gradually restoring the graveyard to its former glory despite 120 years of neglect. It is not open full time because it hasn’t received sufficient funding to overcome health and safety issues to make it suitable for unsupervised public entry.

If it had received council funding perhaps it could be? I sincerely hope members of the council will now visit the burial ground to appreciate the enormity of the work done by volunteers so far, rethink Councillor Madeley’s stance and instead do something to support this fantastic resource of Skipton’s past.


Sarah Lister

Settle Graveyard Project