Go-ahead granted for Telford gravestones re-siting
Plans to move headstones in a Telford graveyard to make way for a new village green have been granted permission.
Chancellor of the Diocese of Lichfield, His Honour Judge Stephen Eyre QC, found in favour of the application and has allowed the work to be completed, as long as conditions are met.
People living in St Georges, initially reacted angrily to the news that the headstones could be moved.
In June notices were put on seven headstones in St Georges Parish Church graveyard saying they will be moved against the north wall.
Leaders at the church want to create a village green in the grounds to host community events as part of a project that will also see the venue's clock restored and a toilet installed.
But people living in St Georges said they were upset with the proposals, which will involve moving the grave of Crimean War veteran John Cope.
In his conclusion, Judge Eyre said: "The activities envisaged are consistent with the churchyard's consecrated status and with its role as a fitting resting place for the remains of local people.
"Those activities and the provision of a place for them will meet a need of the local community.
"Meeting that need in this way will further the mission of the church. Those are real and substantial benefits. Accordingly, in the circumstances of this case I am satisfied that there is a good reason for the proposal and that the benefits of what is proposed justify the serious step of moving the memorials."
The Rev Kevin Evans, minister in charge of St Georges, said: "Of course, we are very pleased with the outcome as this opens the way for some very important developments critical to the current and future use of our church building.
"I fully understand the concerns of the objectors and our aim has always been to meet the needs of the local community in the most appropriate way. This includes providing suitable access for disabled people and making it possible for the church to have toilets – both essential in the 21st century."
"For me, the most reassuring aspect was the thoroughness of the Chancellor's deliberations which included paying an unannounced visit to see for himself. I would like to think that if the decision had gone the other way, despite my disappointment, I would have been happy that everything had been impartially and thoroughly considered."
Mr Cope, who died in 1914, and is also buried with his wife Jane, served in the Crimean War and was the father of steeplechaser John Crimea Cope. An obituary on the death of the younger Mr Cope reveals Mr Cope was wounded in Crimea and was nursed by Florence Nightingale and a letter from the nurse was one of the families treasured possessions.