Controversial work to move gravestones sparks outcry from residents

Work to move several gravestones in a Shropshire church cemetery which began today was met with outcry from some residents who had previously opposed the plans.

St Mary Magdelene's Church in Bridgnorth
St Mary Magdelene's Church in Bridgnorth

St Mary Magdelene's Church on East Castle Street in Bridgnorth is seeing a total of 16 gravestones moved to the back wall in the cemetery, and the ground made more robust for potential use as accessible car parking.

The plans were approved in 2019 by Shropshire Council, and also verified by the church faculty, but were not universally supported in the town.

Critics say it will increase the number of people who want to park in the church grounds as it is, as well as being upset about the moving of memorials.

The completed work would see the gravestones relocated to the back wall in the cemetery, the area over the graves strengthened to allow vehicles to use the space to park, but would not involve tarmac as the turf would be replaced.

Some memorials that had become derelict are to be removed altogether.

Rector Simon Cawdell said: "I want to reassure people that the work is being done sensitively. We have an archaeologist and an arboriculturist on site keeping a watching brief over the work at all times. The graves themselves are not being disturbed.

"When completed it will enable people attending the church, both for community events and for services, particularly those with mobility difficulties, will be able to use the facilities much more easily."

Terence Jones, one of the locals who opposed the plans in the first place, is not happy that the work is continuing.

He said: "To desecrate that amount of ground is sickening. Everybody is up in arms about it."

He added that he was concerned that the work would only lead to even more people trying to park in the church grounds, rather than parking on the street.

The issue was also the talk of the town on social media, with people sharing their feelings, calling the move 'revolting' and 'wrong'.

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