Oxford

Concern over Eynsham village grave shortage

St Leonards church Image copyright Nigel cox
Image caption There are currently only a handful of plots left in the St Leonards churchyard

Residents of an Oxfordshire village face having to be buried elsewhere as a church graveyard reaches capacity.

The churchyard of St Leonards Church in Eynsham has enough space for fewer than ten graves.

Attempts to use land near the 13th Century church have not proved viable due to land prices and archaeological concerns.

Reverend Moray Andrews said it was "causing understandable concern in the community".

The church stopped taking reservations for plots ten years ago when the shortage of space was becoming apparent.

'Major concern'

Mr Andrews said attempts by the church and parish council since then to find additional suitable land close to the church had been hampered by the cost of archaeological investigations as a medieval abbey is known to have been located nearby.

He said the issue of "over-burying" in the older parts of the graveyard could be explored but moving gravestones would be time-consuming and there was a reluctance in the community to see old graves moved.

Funeral director Annie Green said it was a "major concern" that contingency plans had not been made.

"There is an elderly population in the village. A lot of them are from old Eynsham families and they would expect to be buried in their parish churchyard," she said.

She said most would "not be happy at all" at the prospect of burials at Whitney town cemetery where fees for "out of parish" burials would be higher.

Gordon Beach, chairman of the parish council said: "We've been working with the church for a number of years looking for alternatives - it's not easy, land is at a premium."

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