It’s been a few weeks since my last post about Windleshaw Chantry and the restoration of the surrounding graveyard. As regular readers will know by now, my mum and I have adopted a few graves as part of the adopt a grave project, and aim to help out with the actual restoration work (digging, weeding etc,) on a regular basis. Illness, unreliable transport, and bad weather have prevented us from digging in (excuse the pun) in recent weeks, but I do have a few photographs to share from our last visit on 6th October which I think showcases the hard work done by all the volunteers, and captures the graveyard looking beautiful in the autumn sun.
First of all, this was the sight (below) that greeted us as we entered the graveyard a few weeks back.
I’m an amateur photographer armed with nothing more than a smartphone, but I think this photograph provides both a quick glimpse of the work that has already been done and that which is continuing. Those spades are just waiting for more volunteers. It also captures the chantry building itself in the background.
Above is another shot of what greeted us as we entered: the spades, the chantry, the autumn sun, and, of course, graves.
You may remember a few months ago, my mum and I unearthed a bit of a mystery after cleaning up a gravestone marked with the name Tho (Thomas) Wearing. Upon turning it over to fill in the earth with the help of another volunteer, we discovered the name John Webster was written on the back. You can read about this by clicking here.
We left the stone in a much better condition, weeding the area, and cleaning it up. However, the stone has now been stood up by some of our fellow volunteers so that both names are visisble as we’re still not entirely sure who exactly is buried in this grave. You can see what it looks like now below.
Whilst strolling round the graveyard, we found some volunteers working hard at lifting this extremely heavy stone (below). Tragically, this gravestone mentions the names of two people who died aged just 32 and 25 respectively. I can’t believe how astonishingly clear and untouched the writing on the stone is though despite being from the mid 19th century.
The photograph below gives you an indication of just how heavy these stones are, and how much effort it takes to lift just one. Don’t let that put you off volunteering though; you can do as little or as much as you like, and as often as you like. You can lift and dig if you want to, or you can tidy and weed, or you can even adopt an already restored grave and maintain it by visiting it a few times a year.
Despite it being autumn, you can see signs of life everywhere you look. In addition to the hundreds of conkers, there are beautiful flowers and plants adorning the graves, some wild and some planted, and some growing in slightly stranger places than others (see below).
They all add to the beauty of the graveyard. No longer is it neglected and unloved. There are a lot of people who are incredibly passionate about its restoration and the adopt a grave project, and it’s thanks to their dedication that the graveyard is flourishing.
Above you can see the vibrant colours in the flowers as the sun streams down on the grave. Below you can see more evidence of recent planting by volunteers.
In the photographs below you can see yet more signs of love and life.
My final image features a grave that my mum and I weeded and tidied a few months back. You can see the before and after images of the Jolliffe grave below.
However, since being adopted, it has really transformed. You can see from the image below the care and time that has been put into maintaining this grave. It really is remarkable.
I hope to visit the graveyard at the weekend after finding a new recruit who has expressed interest in helping out. I will also hopefully have more photographs and stories to share.
By Nicola F.
Please do not copy, share, or use the images from this post without seeking permission first. Please also remember to credit me for my original photographs.