The stories behind the graves

Beneath the mossy granite and worn inscriptions in Hilborough churchyard lie stories of loving families and post-war hardship. Now a vicar is hoping to celebrate the forgotten lives of those buried in the All Saints graveyard with a service and display next weekend.

Beneath the mossy granite and worn inscriptions in Hilborough churchyard lie stories of loving families and post-war hardship.

Now a vicar is hoping to celebrate the forgotten lives of those buried in the All Saints graveyard with a service and display next weekend.

Relatives from as far away as Canada will congregate at the remote 13th century church to share tales and memorabilia of their relatives buried in the churchyard over the past 50 years.

Eight months of painstaking research poring over parish records has allowed volunteers to identify everyone buried in the past half century and to contact many relatives.

Their work will also finally record the resting place of all those who have suffered the ignominy of lying in unmarked graves.

Seven members of the family of Norfolk's most famous son Nelson are buried in the churchyard, including his brother, the original Horatio Nelson, whose name the iconic vice admiral was given after he died.

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The Rev David Hanwell said the weekend would be a joyous occasion.

He said: “There are so many untold tales and all the complexity of human life lying beneath the ground.

“There are the stories that it is impossible to tell just from the words that are written on a headstone.

“Behind the epithet 'She was a devoted mother' could be someone who lost her husband in the First World War, brought up eight children on her own and worked her fingers to the bone.

“It will be a great opportunity for both local people and relatives to discover more about the village and the people who played an important role in its history.”

The tribute service will take place at 6pm on Sunday, September 9 during which the names of all who have been buried in the last 50 years will be read out and prayers said for them. The names of people buried before then will also be read out on prior request.

It is hoped to put any memorabilia and photographs bought by relatives on display during the weekend.

A similar weekend was held last year at All Saints Church in Cockley Cley and is intended to be held each time volunteer Ann Howarth finishes cataloguing the layout of memorials in each of Rev Hanwell's parishes, with Gooderstone, Foulden and Great Cressingham still remaining.

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