Graveyard closed at Haworth West Lane Methodist Church as tombstones topple (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Graveyard closed at Haworth West Lane Methodist Church as tombstones topple
Unstable tombstones and sinking graves have made a Haworth graveyard out of bounds to casual visitors and dog walkers.
The graveyard behind Haworth West Lane Methodist Church is more than 200 years old. Members of the church council said they reluctantly took the decision to lock the gates to the site because they were concerned for the safety of members of the public.
Superintendent minster Jacky Hale stressed access would still be provided for people wishing to visit or tend to particular graves.
“We don’t want to exclude anyone, we’re just trying to take care of their safety,” she said.
“People who need to go into the churchyard can call a number displayed on the gates to make an appointment and gain access.
“Some of the headstones are very unstable and because a lot of the graves are starting to sink someone could step on one and the ground could give way.”
Church steward Bernard Thompson, who lives in Long Lee, explained the churchyard that is now locked is one of two graveyards connected to the church.
“There’s a graveyard lower down, but it’s a much newer one and there isn’t a problem with that,” he said.
“We’re locking up the top graveyard. This has been used on a daily basis by dog walkers – it’s a shortcut to the cricket field.
“One of the headstones has already fallen onto the path.
“I can imagine a situation where someone’s dog falls down a hole, then their owner could end up in the same situation.Only one or two of the graves are actually tended by anyone, and we haven’t had a funeral there for many, many years.
“Locking it up isn’t something we particularly want to do, but although we own the graveyard we don’t own the graves.
“It’s such a big job to keep the graveyard in order. My wife and I have spent four years trying to keep on top of it.”