THE popular summer graveyard trails with Sarah Lister, of Settle Graveyard Project, will soon be starting for the 2023 season, celebrating the lives of local characters of bygone days. Sarah lets us know what to look out for.



THE trails run on Sunday afternoons. Here’s one talented family whose history will crop up.

Robert Haygarth, a blacksmith, and his wife Alice Thompson and two daughters came to Settle from Garsdale in 1892. They had another four sons and a daughter, Alice, although she died in infancy. There were already plenty of blacksmiths in Settle so Robert, a bit of an entrepreneur, found a job with Thomas Hall Harper who ran a bicycle shop. Bicycles were quite a new technology but had moved on from Penny Farthings by then. It was noted: ‘bicycles cost less than a very bad horse and eat nothing, so should be useful. Bicycle riding, like skating combines the pleasure of personal display with the luxury of swift motion through the air’.

Bicycles were especially popular with women as they provided independent travel and a change in fashion, bloomers replacing long skirts although not everyone approved! Incredibly, two cycling clubs had been set up in Settle, in 1884 and 1890.

After seven years Robert took over the shop in New Road (now Station Road) in Settle. Robert and Alice’s sons Jim and Matthew later took over the business and moved on to motorbikes and cars with a garage on Duke Street, next to the Golden Lion. They were pioneers of wireless radios and TVs and ran a taxi firm. One of their most prestigious fares was transporting the crew and cast for the film ‘Another Man’s Poison’ filmed at Ashfield in 1950 - Betty Davis was the star!

Robert and Alice’s children were very musical. Sons Jim and Matthew played violins for the Settle Amateur Operatic Society (SAOS) orchestra and son Clifford, a decorator, played the cello. Daughter Elizabeth Ethel performed on stage for SAOS until she married, aged 56. Daughter Annie, pictured, and son Richard Haygarth made a living as piano teachers. Whilst playing first violin for SAOS son Matthew Haygarth met Annice Sidwells, an extremely talented contralto singer and a national star.

Annice was so successful that she performed on the wireless for the BBC in its earliest days, from 1926 and made numerous ’78’ records. She was invited up to Malham Tarn Hall to perform for MP Walter Morrison. Annice was scouted to train in London, but Matthew Haygarth had set his heart on her! Matthew went to visit her, wearing his trilby hat, and proposed to her in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey - what a romantic! They bought a ring on Bond Street and returned to Settle, married and had a family. They both continued to perform for SAOS. In 1952 Matthew, aged 52, fell ill whilst performing in the orchestra for a production of Pirates of Penzance and went home without telling Annice who was on stage. 

Tragically, Matthew was dead by the time Annice got home after the show. After Matthew died Annice retired to Silverdale. Annice had a yellow mini that she named Buttercup, after a character in HMS Pinafore, the first production she ever saw in Settle. She often drove Buttercup back to Settle to see family and old friends. Annice lived to the age of 99 but was brought back to Settle for burial with Matthew, nearly 50 years later.

Settle Graveyard Project can be contacted at: or check out the Settle Graveyard Facebook page.

The trails run on Sunday afternoons - July 30 and August 6, 13, 20, 27 in Settle graveyard along the themes of ‘Unknown Stars of Victoria Hall’, ‘Sporty Folk’, The Hazards of being a Doctor’, ‘Artists and Romantics’ and some ‘Accidents and Lucky Escapes’.

On September 3 it’s the Giggleswick trail, in Giggleswick churchyard and on September 10 in Long Preston graveyard. All trails start at 2.30pm except the trail on August 20, Artists and Romantics, which starts at 2pm. 

We are really looking forward to welcoming locals and visitors to have some fun celebrating more local characters, the amazing ones as well as the naughty ones, and raising more money for local charities too. Trails are free to attend with donations going to local charities - nearly £10,000 donated to date. Places are limited so booking is required. To book your places call 07448 135625, email or sign up in person at The Folly Museum in Settle. Chairs are available if required and we’ll be inside the church if it rains. Refreshments are available afterwards at Settle and Giggleswick churches.