Friday, 21 October 2016

Wednesday 19 October 2016

On Saturday St Mary’s Church, Embsay, held an Open Day  to tell the village all about our Heritage Lottery funded. To packed pews, Rev. Louise provided an outline of the project, including the roof repairs, followed by Sue Stearn, our indefatigable project co-ordinator, who impressed the audience with a whirlwind tour of the churchyard survey and RTI photography.
A really interesting talk was given by the stone mason, David Lamb, who had worked on the cross on the church roof – telling us how he developed his skills as a heritage craftsman. His display of craftsmen’s tools drew quite a bit of interest from people afterwards who went over to chat with him.
After an excellent buffet lunch, David Turner and I ran two churchyard tours which we think went very well. At least everyone stayed to the end!
The occasion also served as a book launch for the revised and updated history of the parish church

Today our weekly Wednesday survey day was a little different to the usual as we were joined for the day by Richard and Melvyn from nearby Long Preston. They had come to spend the day learning about our churchyard survey project at St Mary’s, Embsay. As members of the Long Preston Heritage Group, they are very interested in what we are doing, and so they had come along to find out just what a local churchyard survey involves.
We had a really nice day with them both – Richard missed out on the lunchtime cakes as he nipped home to visit his parents who live in Embsay – but otherwise we had plenty of opportunity to chat about the logistics of a survey like ours, the joys and the pitfalls, and how we hope to develop our current work at St Mary’s. 

They picked up the clipboards and tape measures and mucked right in, under the occasional watchful eye of our friendly robin who popped by a few brief times.
We are looking forward to running a workshop at Long Preston soon at which we hope to encourage the Heritage Group there to undertake a similar survey of their own churchyard.
We also had the pleasure of watching the stone masons at work on the roof, installing the new mounting for the cross which stands on the roof. David Lamb, the stone mason, is highly experienced in heritage work at churches and cathedrals, so St Mary’s is very lucky to have him working on the cross.

Jane Lunnon

Monday, 17 October 2016

12 October 2016

A chilly day - autumn definitely in the air now; and that means the wasps have disappeared at last, and we could get to work back in the middle of the North section. 

Some of the burial plots around here are little more than low kerbstones, without any headstone, so they were hidden under the grass. While Tony got the mower out to prepare the churchyard for the open day this coming weekend, David Eastwood got busy with the shears to cut away some of the grass obscuring the inscriptions on the graves we were surveying today. 

Despite the occasional spit and spot of rain, and some strong winds - which made triangulation somewhat difficult - we did manage to complete a fair few measurements and photographs. 

We missed the robin who didn't turn up for us today - perhaps it found the weather too inclement for its liking. 

Jane Lunnon

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Wednesday 5th October 2016

Last Wednesday we were visited by the robin again as he watched us with perky curiosity going about our surveying – we were again mostly trying to identify the un-marked graves, and plotting them in.

But he wasn’t there today, which was a shame as we’re all very fond of him.

Still, at least the wasps’ nest appears to have quietened down with scarcely a sight of any of the inhabitants around their nest in the ground.
This meant that after finishing off plotting in the un-marked graves at the east end we could move back up to the middle of the north side of the churchyard again and resume surveying the gravestones there.  

The strong gusts of wind made triangulation with tapes pretty much impossible by lunchtime, and feeling very battered about we had quite a long lunch over which we discussed a recent visit that I made to the wonderful Arnos Vale cemetery in Bristol.  
Arnos Vale Cemtery, Bristol
Our little churchyard is not a patch on that large burial ground with so many impressive monuments, of course, but we hope we can emulate – on a smaller scale - their admirable work in making the graveyard a valued part of local heritage.

As we were working close to the edge of the churchyard, by the roadside, several local dog walkers stopped for a little chat as they passed by, giving us the opportunity to explain our project and hopefully encourage some interest in it. David Turner also popped by so that we could plan our graveyard tours for October 15th. Apparently both tours are already fully booked so David and I need to brush up on our scripts!!

Jane Lunnon

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Today we entertained the cheeky robin again as he watched us with great curiosity going about our churchyard survey.

We are still working our way across the large area on the north-east corner where there are rows of un-marked graves. 

We ended  up with a sea of white flags marking them out in their approximate positions according to the burial plan. 

Alan's "rain dance"
The main challenge today was a collapsed monument which had been a cross on a large double-tier plinth. Many of the lead letters had fallen off, and some of the inscriptions were hidden under the tumbled cross, which was too heavy to move.

Alan also wanted to have another go at RTI photography on a memorial stone which similarly had the inscription made from lead letters. Although we have had great success using RTI - even on memorials where the lead letters have completely fallen away - this particular gravestone had not come out well from last week’s photographs. Perhaps the surface of the stone was too pitted to allow enough distinction between stone and lettering. Let’s hope this week’s photographs turn out better.

Our good intentions to resume surveying after our afternoon tea break (thanks for another delicious chocolate cake, Jennifer!) came to nothing as it started to rain about 4pm, so we called it a day.

 Jane Lunnon. 

Friday, 16 September 2016

Wednesday 14th September 2016

After the amazing thunder storm last night we enjoyed an Indian summer today. It was very hot, and in the afternoon the bright sunshine even made the photographing of some of the gravestones almost impossible as the light bounced off the camera lens.

We did well – fortified at lunch-time by Jennifer’s wonderful home-made chocolate cake (baked to perfection, despite the power cuts last night!) - still working on the North side, continuing with the general recording and surveying of memorial stones. One or two stones were also photographed with RTI during the morning. 

A small cross memorial was having a haircut (cutting back the grass at the base to enable clear photos to be taken), when it was discovered it was in fact a deeply sunken stone. Careful (very careful!) pushing back of soil and turf revealed much more of the inscription. So that was a nice addition to the records. Needless to say, we put it all back as it was before.

The wasps were still flying in and out of their underground burrow – they seemed a bit dopey, so we kept well away. Hopefully they will soon fly away once the autumn cold starts, and we can start recording that area of the churchyard.

In the meantime, watched by a curious robin, we focused on the large “empty” spaces in the north east section. Of course, these aren’t really empty – they are full of un-marked burial plots. We are lucky in that we have a burial plan where the names of the people buried here are given and marked on the grid. How to record all these? 

We use white flags to mark out the plots (using the plan - and assuming an average area of about 3x6ft per plot - as a guide) and record them on our field survey forms (jncluding triangulation data) with the names known. These are each photographed separately for the files, in close-up and in a wider “landscape” context, and then the whole line of flags is photographed together. A copy of this last photograph will be copied into the photo-folder for each un-marked grave.


Jane Lunnon

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Wednesday 24th August 2016

A warm, sunny summer’s day for our little team today, which gave Sue the chance to sport her new pink sun-hat.

We had planned to do some RTI on the north side where 3 gravestones had proved difficult to read with the naked eye last week. But the sun was so bright, throwing a good shadow, that these were very legible today, so we were able to get away with taking straightforward photographs of them before the sun moved too far over and the inscriptions became difficult to read again.
Using flags to indicate un-marked graves
 The rest of the day we spent measuring and photographing on the north side, and plotting in a large number of un-marked grave plots, of which there are many located within quite discrete areas on the north side.    

The summer sunshine brought out many visitors – relatives tending graves, as well as tourists out for a country walk, passing by and popping in to see the church and have a chat.

The next two weeks we will have a break, but work will resume again after that. In the meantime we are giving a lot of consideration to the next phase of the project – that is how to use and analyse the data we are collecting.  

Jane Lunnon

Monday, 22 August 2016

17 August 2016

Another bus day measuring, surveying, photographing and recording gravestones on the north side of St Mary’s churchyard.

Today we were joined by Gina, visiting us from Sussex. She learnt some new skills, made new friends, and enjoyed learning about the people who used to live here.
Gina enjoying her unusual holiday activity

We had to be careful today - we have often found ants' nests scattered around the churchyard - but today we found a wasps' nest in the ground - which Tony marked with a wooden post so we were reminded not to get too close!

Ground-Burrowing wasps' nest

Delivery of vital supplies - CAKE!!
The weather was changeable, but the most annoying thing was that there was at times too much sunshine!! We complain about the rain when we can’t work on the survey; we complain about the wind, because it disrupts the triangulation tapes; and now we complain about the sunshine because the sunlight reflects on the camera lens. This afternoon no matter how the shade-board was positioned we couldn’t avoid the low sun shining directly into the picture. So two gravestones have to be left for next time – when they will be photographed in the morning.

Nevertheless we had a good day - and enjoyed ourselves as usual!

Jane Lunnon