FRIENDS of Raikes Road Burial Ground in Skipton were well turned out in Victorian dress on one of the hottest days of the year as part of national Heritage Open Days.

Skipton Mayor, Councillor Sheila Bentley and the Rector of Holy Trinity Church, the Rev Canon Dr James Theodosius, opened the event and welcomed people with the rector also giving a blessing.

Jean Robinson, chair of the friends group guided visitors around the the site with stories of some of the local characters who are interred there.

Opened between 1846 and 1876, it remains the only burial ground in the town still in its original state.

Burials there provide a fascinating and unique insight into Skipton’s Victorian community and include some notable Skiptonians such as Rudyard Kipling’s grandparents, as well as family connections to the Brontes, Beatrix Potter and Robert Burns, plus heroes of the Napoleonic war, the Crimean War and an Australian soldier from the First World War. Local trades people, worthies and characters also feature.

The last burials took place around 1900, but the site remains consecrated ground. At some stage the burial ground included a chapel and a mortuary, with associated pathways, but there is now little trace of them left. A recent archaeological dig however has revealed the footprint of the chapel.

Due to historical neglect, the ground has become something of a wildlife haven with trees more than 250 years old, various wildflowers and grass.

Regular open days at the Victorian burial ground are free, but with donations gratefully received to help the friends group buy and maintain tools and the graves themselves.

The friends group would gladly welcome anyone who would like to join the volunteer team to help keep on top of the maintenance of the ground.

A spokesperson said: "Throughout spring, summer and autumn we try to meet most Mondays from 10am to 3pm, weather permitting, bringing our own packed lunch. Some tools are provided but you may prefer to bring your own.

"Our next and final open day for 2023 will take place on October 14 from 11am to 3pm with one guided walk at 11.30am. The only substantive record for the ground - the burial register - is available and help will be given to those researching their ancestors."

The new revised book about the burial ground and its people 'Not Lost But Gone Before' will be on sale priced at £11 -cash only - with all profits going to the friends group.