Would you buy this former church where people can still be buried in the garden?
PUBLISHED: 15:34 12 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:43 12 February 2019
How do you fancy buying a property which has a graveyard in the front garden where villagers can still be buried?
People living in a Norfolk village who want to be buried in their local graveyard face a scary problem – the site is up for sale.
A buyer is needed for a former church in Hemsby which comes with a graveyard of around 100 tombstones dating from the mid 1800s to recent years.
Unusually, the graveyard is still ‘active’ meaning people living locally can still be buried there. It also begs the question over rights for family members to visit the graves and who is going to maintain them. A new owner could have the right to remove the graves altogether.
The former Congregational church on Yarmouth Road was put up for sale by its board of trustees, who aren’t local, but it failed to sell twice at auction, so is still on the market for £145,000.
Unless the parish council buys it, it could be snapped up by a private individual and local people fear the building will be turned into a private home and the graves possibly moved and lost forever.
It comes after another property recently came on the market for sale with a graveyard in its front garden. The converted chapel building in North Lopham does not come with ownership of the graveyard, however, which in that case has been retained by the church.
In Hemsby, the graveyard is included in the sale as well as a memorial garden dedicated to the late Lady Diana, created for public use.
Noel Galer, Hemsby parish councillor, said funds could be raised for the purchase of the church and graveyard but no one had come up with a plan.
“Our fear is that someone will buy it and turn it into a posh house. The graveyard isn’t ‘closed’ meaning people still have a right to be buried there.
“We aren’t being kept up to date with what is happening and don’t know whether it’s going to be sold or not.”
The property was put in the Auction House London sale in December but failed to fetch the £145,000 sale price, with a bid falling short by just £2,000.
It is now listed on Rightmove for sale through Auction House London as a residential development opportunity ‘comprising church premises with rear outbuildings and a graveyard.’ The details describe it as a ‘church which lies on a large plot with the church building towards the rear and former stables behind and graveyard at the front.’
Entire families are buried in the graveyard with some headstones as recent as 1983. Families include four members of the Woolstons, who once ran the post office and six members of the Starlings, who were millers.