Dismay over decision to move gravestones to make room at Caister Church

Gravestones along a wall of the western section in the church cemetery at Caister.Picture: James Bas

Gravestones along a wall of the western section in the church cemetery at Caister.Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

A church court has decided headstones can be moved and the graves re-used, despite concerns from relatives.

Gravestones along a wall of the western section in the church cemetery at Caister.Picture: James Bas

Gravestones along a wall of the western section in the church cemetery at Caister.Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

The ruling comes after the joint burial committee at Caister asked the Church of England's Consistory Court, which has to approve matters relating to churches and consecrated ground, to re-locate markers for 71 people at the cemetery in Ormesby Road.

Concern was raised over two of the graves, which both date back to 1894 when Master Mariner Captain John Thomas Sneller and his 11-year-old grandson, William Blyth both died. His wife, Frances Sneller, was interred alongside him in 1905.

Two of Mr and Mrs Sneller's great-great granddaughters, one of them from Great Yarmouth and the other from Iowa, USA, representing a family genealogy group, both opposed the move.

All the graves affected were said to be well over 100 years old, except one from 1932.

Maureen Wright, 63, of Northgate Street, asked Ruth Arlow, chancellor of the diocese of Norwich and a judge of the ecclesiastical court, to allow the gravestones to be 'left undisturbed for a few more years to come… for family reasons' adding that she had visited the graves and others as a child and had shown them to her own children and grandchildren.

She also talked of John Sneller's illustrious career as a master mariner in the Merchant Navy who had travelled the world and rounded Cape Horn several times.

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She said that she hoped her relative might have been give the same respect as Caister seafarers and lifeboatmen whose graves remained undisturbed.

'They were put in the ground with love and care by their families and to me its not the same seeing the headstone along the hedge and not at the actual grave.

'We go back a long way and think a lot of him.'

Despite the plea for postponement, chancellor Arlow said the stones could be moved, but would be set prominently.

Rev Tim Thompson, rector at Holy Trinity Church, Caister, said re-using graves was 'absolutely routine' in the English churchyard.

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