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Village Elders

Friday, 18th October 2002, West Yorkshire

pied wagtailelder hedgeA pied wagtail trots about on the ridge tiles of the roof of a house across the road in the morning sun.

The hedgerows are still awash with crimson haws and black-purple elderberries. A small flock of starlings wheels up from a roadside hedge.

Grave News

Christ Church, South OssettDuring a busy day I've just time to call for a quick look at the cemetery at Manor Road, Ossett, to check on some details for an e-mail correspondent, Lorna from Austrailia, who is researching her ancestors, the Laycocks and Brummits. She knows that her ancestor Arthur Laycock was buried in 1860s at South Ossett; she still has the burial papers and, even though he was only 22 years old when he died, the family still have his pocket watch!

The trail has gone cold. The gravestones were removed from South Ossett churchyard itself 20 years ago or more. The Manor Road cemetery half a mile away includes a large 1914-1918 war memorial but no headstones dating back to the 19th century.

Tomb Raiders

Ossett Spa landscape
Last year there was consternation amongst residents when at the far end of Manor Road, where an imposing Baptist chapel had once stood, all the impressive Victorian gravestones were bulldozed into a pile. Some of the families are still living locally.

South Ossett in its heyday must have been a lively graveyard, if that isn't a contradiction in terms; in 1890 a South Ossett man was buried, according to his express wishes, upright so that he would be able to spring to his feet on the day of Resurrection.

pied wagtail Christ Church, South Ossett, was built in 1851. There were 1,900 burials there between 1851 and 1889 when further burials were allowed in the Wesleyan Burial Ground. I guess that makes it unlikely that we'd track down an individual headstone.

There are going to be some mightily disgruntled South Ossettonians come Resurrection day!

Book Link

Around Old OssettThe information above is from my booklet Around Old Ossett, 2.95, ISBN 1-902467-01-9 which is just about to go into its second edition. You can order a copy from me, post free in the U.K., via e-mail or order it through your local bookshop.

If you live further afield you might prefer to order it through Rickaro Books. Richard Knowles who runs it keeps all of my books that are in print in stock and often has some of my out-of-print titles available. And I'm always willing to pop in and sign a copy for you too before he puts them in the post; who knows, they might be collectors items one of these days!next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
struggling author

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