Churchyard and cemetery

Tradition and modernity in rural North Yorkshire

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.

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