Wiltshire

Barbecue on 200-year-old tombstone 'disgraceful', vicar says

St John's churchyard in Devizes
Image caption The group members said they were not being disrespectful because no-one visited the graves

The vicar of a church where a 200-year-old tombstone was used for a barbecue has called it "disgraceful".

Up to 14 people, many of whom are homeless, were seen barbecuing in St John's in Devizes at the weekend.

They claim they had permission from the church and were not being disrespectful as it was not a "recent grave".

But Revd Canon Paul Richardson, said permission was "categorically" not given and it was "disgraceful" graves were "being shown such disrespect".

'Someone's resting place'

On Saturday night the group used the top of a tombstone in the Wiltshire churchyard to cook sausages on two disposable barbecues.

When details of the graveyard barbecue appeared on social media, opinions were divided.

One person said: "I'm so shocked, it makes me sad. I really don't understand how anybody has the audacity to do this".

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Media captionThe group had a barbecue on top of a tomb

Another said: "I know this is an old grave but this is still someone's resting place - it's so disrespectful."

By contrast, another posted on Facebook that she would be "quite happy to think someone was having a party on my grave one day".

'Nobody has visited'

The individuals involved in the barbecue said the churchyard was "where we live" and they would be doing it again.

"Pretty much everyone who was down here at the time was homeless," they said.

"Where else are we going to have a barbecue, it don't burn the graves and no way is it disrespectful because nobody has visited this grave."

But Revd Canon Richardson, said the individuals "do not have permission to be in the churchyard".

"It is disgraceful that the graves of our local ancestors are being shown such disrespect," he said.

"The church has been active in working with Wiltshire Council in trying to home the individuals involved but we are told that they have been reluctant to accept any provision offered."

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