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Tradition and modernity in rural North Yorkshire
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This book reviews the burial history of central North Yorkshire. In exploring the social history of burial in rural areas, the book aims to encompass some of the principles underpinning 'l'histoire des mentalites'. The book considers the issue of churchyard closure. Churchyard closure generally signalled that burial space was made available elsewhere, and in most cases before 1894 this meant that the churchyard itself had been extended. The book reviews the incidence of churchyard extension, which was commonplace during the nineteenth century. The Burial Acts introduced legislation that permitted vestries to establish burial boards, which could raise loans repayable through the rates to fund the laying out of new cemeteries. In central North Riding, a total of eighteen burial boards were in operation before 1894, and the book reviews in detail the operation of the ten largest boards in that group. The Burial Acts maintained and even strengthened the hold of the Church of England on burial space, by substantially increasing the amount of consecrated land under its control. The book also addresses the contention that the new legislative context for burial in the twentieth century might then introduce the opportunity for a substantial centralisation of burial provision. Finally, the book reviews the pattern of burial provision in 2007 compared with 1850, and concludes that there is evidence of both continuity and change.

Centralisation and cemeteries, 1894–1974
Julie Rugg

The Burial Act, 1900, had ostensibly created a more streamlined legislative framework, in which the interests of the Church of England were no longer represented. In central North Riding, it might be argued that the complexity of burial legislation itself constituted a key reason why a complete centralisation of burial function did not take place. Changes to local governance created a framework of rural district councils whose staff of sanitary officers had a clear remit for dealing with any public health nuisance caused by inadequate burial space. Under the Local Government Act, 1888, existing sanitary districts were realigned into urban and rural districts. In 1913, the National Association of Cemetery Superintendents was launched to promote cemetery management as a profession. The clerical fees and consecration remained issues for cemetery management through much of the twentieth century.

in Churchyard and cemetery
The churchyard as cemetery
Julie Rugg

This chapter explores the incidence of churchyard extension by framing questions around the changing nature of the churchyard itself during 1895-2009. New management practices in the churchyard extension encompassed many of the virtues of cemetery administration, including grave numbering systems, but tended to overlook some of the measures that could be employed to maximise land usage. By the twentieth century, the legal and economic contexts for churchyard extension had changed. The strength of local opinion in favour of churchyard extension is indicated most forcefully through its growing incidence. The Church of England had been essentially disenfranchised from its rights in burial terms by a bundle of acts passed towards the end of the nineteenth century. The Burial Acts had contributed to the Church of England retaining its hold on burial provision.

in Churchyard and cemetery
The changing churchyard landscape
Julie Rugg

This chapter considers the way in which the landscape of the churchyard changed over the course of the twentieth century. It addresses some contentions that have been central to the notion of a new and 'modern' attitude towards disposal of the dead. The chapter discusses the 'tidying up' of the churchyard, in the removal of above-ground monumentation including body mounds, and the clearance of monuments and kerbsets to create an 'emptier' landscape. It also considers the incidence of churchyard closure. The chapter describes the introduction of cremation and its impact on rural burial practice. The closely neighbouring towns of New Malton and Norton were two examples in which the history of the churchyard in the twentieth century was a closer reflection of urban experience than rural. The Cremation Act, 1902 had given cremation legal standing and provided a necessary regulatory framework.

in Churchyard and cemetery
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‘Thoroughly untidy’: changing burial culture, 1850–2007
Julie Rugg

This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in this book. The book takes the opportunity to survey current burial provision in central North Riding. In 2007 the Church of England continued to dominate the supply of burial space. The creation of specific areas within churchyards for the interment of cremated remains has become universal. The history of burial culture is by no means intended to be a final statement on the vast subject of disposal of the dead in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. By the end of the nineteenth century, the larger burial boards had made inroads into Harrogate, which had grown rapidly, and the smaller market towns. Both the Burial Act and the bypassing of the Burial Acts by the Public Health created a new legislative context for burial provision at the start of the twentieth century.

in Churchyard and cemetery
Theorising cemeteries
Julie Rugg

This chapter begins by reviewing the bundle of theories attached to the creation of cemeteries in the period from around the mid-eighteenth century. First, the cemeteries are hegemonic space, and reflect the dominance of professional discourses and social elites. Second, the introduction of cemeteries comprised a break from traditional practices. Third, the cemeteries reflect and facilitate the expression of distinctively modern attitudes to mortality. Historians, archaeologists and sociologists argue that cemeteries demonstrate both scientific and social hegemony. The Burial Acts introduced legislation that permitted vestries to establish burial boards, which could raise loans repayable through the rates to fund the laying out of new cemeteries. Church and churchyard burial was a profitable business, and had been since the medieval period. The public health consequences of churchyard 'miasmas' and overcrowding had been acknowledged in legislation which forbade interments in new churches built under the Church Building Act, 1818.

in Churchyard and cemetery
Abstract only
National and local contexts
Julie Rugg

This chapter considers the history of cemeteries and burial generally prior to the passage of the earliest Burial Acts in the 1850s. The social history of disposal of the dead in the first half of the nineteenth century is under-researched, and existing histories underline gaps more frequently than they elucidate a clear picture. In many cases, the cemetery companies were linked to the local government structure and directors often included the mayor, aldermen, the clergy and other leading professionals. For George Hadfield, burial space that was separate from the Church of England was essential in ensuring that Nonconformist families could have the minister of their choice preside at their funerals. Strongly Methodist and gradually depopulating, North Yorkshire is one local context in which burial legislation was played out. The 1848 legislation gave sufficient powers, and the city did have alternative burial provision in the new general cemetery.

in Churchyard and cemetery
Churchyard closures
Julie Rugg

The opening of new cemeteries took place in the context of churchyard closures. Closures are often explained through reference to over-rapid population growth. Dr H. W. Hoffman had indicated that although closure did not need to be imminent, it would allow for continued interment in existing vaults and family graves. The process of closing a churchyard by Order in Council was defined by the Burial Acts, and had emerged as a consequence of the desire to protect the interests of the Church of England. The Burial Act, 1855, relaxed the regulation, and permitted the Privy Council to order the postponement of any discontinuation or 'otherwise to vary any Order in Council'. The majority of Orders in Council in 1829 ordered the cessation of interments with the exception of burials that were deemed to comply with certain sanitary requirements.

in Churchyard and cemetery
The Churchyard Consecration Act and churchyard extensions
Julie Rugg

The Churchyard Consecration Act of 1867 aimed to simplify the process and reduce the consequent legal fees. Churchyard extension was by no means a new development in the second half of the nineteenth century. One very obvious factor that might be considered pertinent to churchyard extension is the massive programme of church rebuilding which took place across England and Wales in the second half of the nineteenth century. The extension of the churchyard brought to the fore issues relating to its management. An indication of the complexity of the process of securing and financing land to enlarge the churchyard is indicated by the example of Knaresborough, where the churchyard of St John the Baptist was extended in 1857. At Bedale, the Reverend Thomas Monson's many difficulties included an inability to prove ownership of the glebe land he hoped to donate.

in Churchyard and cemetery
Burial board management
Julie Rugg

This chapter takes a cue from the work of Christopher Hamlin, who in 1988 observed that 'a useful direction for research in urban history and the history of public health and public works. It uses the narrative of burial board establishment to address a more theoretical contention. Ministry directives on cemetery management constituted a Foucauldian intrusion, in which scientific agendas overtook traditional approaches to burial provision. Professionalised cemetery management was beginning to emerge, and manifested itself in the foundation of the National Association of Cemetery Superintendents, in 1913. The chapter considers how far the cemetery was a new type of burial space which constituted a dislocation from the tradition of churchyard interment. Burial boards were directed by a similar imperative, which meant that disincentives applied where a non-parishioner sought interment. The urban cemeteries were simply replicating practices in their churchyard predecessors.

in Churchyard and cemetery