MOST graves contain three or four people, so every grave has stories to tell, and every grave contains a nice little slice of history. So what better way to find out the history of your town than to check out the graveyard? says Settle researcher Sarah Lister.

Since Holy Ascension Church in Settle was consecrated in 1838, plenty of baptisms, marriages and burials have marked the passing of time. 180 years later in May 2018, Settle District U3A Family Historians decided it would be a good idea to record the inscriptions on all the gravestones to preserve them for future generations, starting with the oldest ones in the “Ancient Graveyard”.

But who were these people buried in these graves?, what did they do?, and how did they make Settle what it is today?

The temptation to find out was irresistible and so Sarah Lister started researching, to celebrate the lives of all our burials, from the aristocracy to working class heroes, vicars to navvies.

“As far back as records go, Settle has been a small, isolated market town, and often a bit behind the times.

So was it a quiet little backwater? “Well no, not at all,” she said.

“There has been tragedy and scandal: bankrupts, bigamy and embezzlement, shootings, suicides and men running off with women a third of their age. “However there are plenty of stars: England’s first female architect, orphans who became bank managers, an uncle of socialite and actress Lillie Langtry, and women appointed to serve Queen Victoria.

“We have millionaires and entrepreneurs, artists, wig makers and eccentrics. “We have suffragettes, choristers, war heroes, women who produced 14 children, travellers on the Lusitania and navvies on the railways.”

The research has been a full time job for Sarah, using the internet, especially genealogy websites, and newspaper reports from the Craven Herald, and British Newspaper Archive.

It has also included local parish records and resources from the Folly, North Craven Building Preservation Trust and North Craven Heritage Trust and the local library.

“I am so grateful to the U3A, local community and community groups for their interest and support. It’s really shaping up to be a wonderful insight into life in Settle in the 19th century,” she added.

The work continues, now looking at more recent sections of the graveyard, and those without gravestones.

The aim is to make the completed research available online and in hard copy for visitors to the church. There may even be graveyard tours this summer.

The project is being generously supported by Stories in Stone, who are funding the publication of a book which should be available in the summer. Advance copies can be booked at the Folly in Settle.

Stories in Stone is scheme of conservation and community projects in the Ingleborough Area. The scheme was developed by the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership led by Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust, and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Don Gamble, Stories in Stone Scheme Manager, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support a book that helps us know more about the generations of people from all backgrounds who lived and worked in and around Settle and finally ended their days here. I’d like to thank Sarah and everyone involved in the project for their hard work in researching and capturing the fascinating stories associated with the graveyard.”

Do you have ancestors in Holy Ascension Graveyard in Settle? Sarah would love to hear from you and can be contacted at:

See next week’s Craven Herald nostalgia page to read a story of one fascinating family, the story of the Jarry sisters, discovered while carrying out the research.