Burial codes of practice
Just been down to Jarrow for a couple of nights visiting mum and family and went on the hunt for grandads grave as part of the picture/location trail in the family tree. Below is an edited version of an e-mail conversation with a very, very helpfull lass from South Tyneside Bereavement Services. The detailed map was excellent and even had the ordnance survey map references on it.

Mr Robertson

Here is the map of Jarrow Cemetery. Grave 510 has no memorial on it but the following graves have:

507 - Rumis
508 - Mulhern
509 - Edgar
Took a trip to the cemetery today and got to the location (great details by the way) but found:

507 - Rumis
508 - Mulhern
509 - Edgar
510 - a small black vase with the inscription SARAH PYGALL on the front (inscription hidden by grass).

The vase has not been visited in some time and appears to be very firmly embedded into the earth. Could I please ask for a double check on Danny Browne's grave number. Perhaps the PYGALL Family got the wrong number (511??) and placed the vase in error.
Mr Robertson
Daniel Browne is definitely buried in grave 510, and so is Sarah Pygall. This is what we refer to as a public grave i.e. it has not been purchased by any one family for their own exclusive use. It is the type of grave that is used when the deceased does not already own a grave, and the family choose not to purchase one at the time of burial. As a result, people who are not related to each other are often buried together in public graves. Sarah was buried on 21.11.1957.

Back to my ramblings - I don't know why I was so suprised as it makes sense when space saving is taken into account but it just seems a little bit wrong to be laid to rest with a stranger. Oh well you learn something new every day.

Being the curious sort I have done a little research on SARAH PYGALL and believe she is SARAH O'DONNELL born Q1 1897 (1901 census in Shakespeare St) who married WILLIAM PYGALL in 1918. I have access to records so not after any research but wondered if there were any PYGALL (O'Donnell??) family out there who placed the vase and can add to the tale?
I see there was a W Pygall of 8 Swinbourne Terrace listed as one on the Jarrow Marchers.
Thought you may find the above of interest.... not something you ordinarily think of

Re-use of graves - Commons Library Standard Note

Published 05 December 2011 | Standard notes SN04060
Authors: Catherine Fairbairn
Topic: Burial and cremation

In some areas land for burial is scarce and some burial grounds have closed because they are full. The question of reuse of graves has been under consideration for some time as a means of addressing this problem.
In limited circumstances, London burial authorities may already reclaim and reuse old graves. In a Westminster Hall debate on burial grounds in February 2007, Harriet Harman, who was then Minister of State for Justice, stated that the then Government was supporting London boroughs in the reuse of burial grounds that are more than 75 years old.
In 2004, the previous Government consulted on a number of issues relating to burial law, including the issue of reuse of graves. The method suggested (the lift and deepen method) involves the exhumation of remains in an existing grave, digging the grave to a greater depth, re-interring the remains (in a fresh coffin, if necessary), and using the rest of the grave for fresh burials. The proposal to reuse graves had a mixed reception.
In 2007, Harriet Harman said that the previous Government was satisfied that it would be right to enable graves to be reused, subject to appropriate safeguards. However, in April 2009, Lord Bach, who was then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, said that the matter was still being kept under review.
A Ministry of Justice official has now stated that, in November 2011, Kenneth Clarke, the Secretary of State for Justice, considered implementation of a policy of reuse of graves and took the view that the introduction of a policy of reuse was not critical at this time. The official said that the Government has committed to keeping the issue under review and will be considering whether there are alternative options to addressing the shortage of burial space.

UK cemetery: Share a grave with a stranger?

  • AP foreign, Thursday October 29 2009
      Associated Press Writer= LONDON (AP) — So you think London, population 8 million, is crowded with the living?
      There are many millions more under the soil of a city that has been inhabited for 2,000 years. And London is rapidly running out of places to put them.
      Now the city's largest cemetery is trying to persuade Londoners to share a grave with a stranger.
      "A lot of people say, 'I'm not putting my Dad in a secondhand grave,'" said Gary Burks, superintendent and registrar of the City of London Cemetery, final resting place of close to 1 million Londoners. "You have to deal with that mindset."
      The problem is a very British one. Many other European countries regularly reuse old graves after a couple of decades. Britain does not, as a result of Victorian hygiene obsession, piecemeal regulation and national tradition. For many, an Englishman's tomb, like his home, is his castle.
      That view is also common in the United States, which like Britain tends to regard graves as eternal and not to be disturbed — although the U.S. has a lot more space, so the burial crisis is less acute.
      In much of Britain, reusing old graves remains illegal, but the City of London cemetery is exploiting a legal loophole that allows graves in the capital with remaining space in them to be reclaimed after 75 years.
      Burks points to a handsome marble obelisk carrying the details of the recently departed man buried underneath. The name of a Victorian Londoner interred in the same plot is inscribed on the other side. The monument has simply been turned around for its new user — whose family, Burks says, got a fancy stone monument for much less than the market price by agreeing to share.
      Since a change in the law last year, cemetery staff have begun the even more sensitive process of digging up old remains, reburying them deeper and putting new corpses on top, in what have been dubbed "double-decker" graves. They'll be sold for the same price as the cemetery's regular "lawn" graves — those in open grassy areas — or about $3,200.
      Burks, a burly man who began working at the cemetery as a groundsman and gravedigger almost 25 years ago, said reusing graves will buy the rapidly filling cemetery six or seven more years of burials.
      "We are doing our damnedest to make the cemetery more sustainable," he said.
      So far, no other cemeteries have followed City of London in reusing graves. Many Britons have an instinctive resistance to the idea of grave-sharing.
      "I don't even want to think about it," said 29-year-old London receptionist Temi Oshinowo. "It's not showing respect. It doesn't matter whether or not the person has been buried for 25 years or 100 years, that is their space and you should give them respect."
      Martina Possedoni, a 23-year-old saleswoman, agreed.
      "It's like a second home and it's weird to think a stranger is in your home with you," she said.
      It's an attitude that frustrates advocates of grave reuse. Julie Rugg of the Cemetery Research Group at the University of York in northern England jokes that Britain's problem is that "we weren't invaded by Napoleon." Countries that adopted the Napoleonic Code have been reusing graves for almost 200 years.
      "We just need to get on with reusing graves," Rugg said. "Grave reuse gifts back to us our Victorian cemeteries to use again."
      Britain, a crowded island, has long battled to find room for its departed residents. Over the centuries they have been packed into mass graves, tucked into churchyards and laid out in sprawling cemeteries. London is like a layer cake of the dead: Victorian upon Medieval upon Saxon upon Roman.
      Construction workers frequently find remains dating back centuries. Workers building venues for the 2012 Olympic Games have unearthed 3,000-year-old Iron Age skeletons as well as Roman and Medieval artifacts.
      For centuries Londoners were buried in churches or small churchyard cemeteries, but when the Industrial Revolution brought a population boom, the existing spaces couldn't cope.
      Alarmed at the perceived health risks of overflowing graveyards, the government passed laws starting in the Victorian era that banned urban churchyard burials, outlawed exhumation without government permission and established large municipal cemeteries.
      Unlike the cramped churchyards of yore, these Victorian cemeteries were green, park-like spaces that soon became tourist attractions as well as final resting places.
      London's most famous, Highgate cemetery, attracts thousands of visitors a year to its tilting tombstones, crumbling crypts and the graves of everyone from Karl Marx to "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" author Douglas Adams.
      Opened in 1856 on the edge of Epping Forest in east London, the City of London Cemetery is the largest municipal graveyard in Europe — 200 acres (80 hectares) of tranquil avenues shaded by chestnut, lime and plane trees. Its residents include Victorian worthies, 1960s-era soccer star Bobby Moore and Catherine Eddowes and Mary Ann Nichols, two victims of Jack the Ripper.
      It hosts 1,000 burials and 2,500 cremations a year, but Burks says that if it does not reuse old graves it will soon run out of space.
      He and other burial advocates hope the government will take the initiative and overhaul the law, making the reuse of graves — currently only permitted in London — a nationwide practice.
      The government is in no hurry to do so. Justice Minister Lord Bach told lawmakers earlier this year that while "the case for reusing old graves had been accepted in principle ... this is a sensitive issue that needs to be handled delicately." He said there were no current plans to expand the practice.
      Meanwhile, others are looking for alternatives to burial. Cremation has been encouraged by the authorities for a century as a clean, space-saving alternative. It's also much cheaper — cremation at the City of London Cemetery starts at $440, while the cheapest adult grave is nearly $1,600.
      As a result, Britain has one of the world's highest cremation rates — almost three-quarters of the population chooses to be incinerated rather than interred.
      The future-looking are touting resummation, or "flameless cremation," a process that uses an alkaline solution to dissolve bodies. But it is not yet recognized in British law.
      Still, many religions — including Muslims, Jews and some Christian denominations — strongly favor burial over cremation and the number of Britons who want to be buried remains steady at more than 25 percent.
      Burks firmly believes that burial has a future.
      "A cemetery like this," he said, looking around at a tranquil scene of grass, trees and marble headstones, "can be used for generations."
      Associated Press Writer Rachel Leamon contributed to this report.

      • © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
Vikki Lawlor
What is the difference between public and private graves?

A public grave (or common grave) is where the right to burial cannot be purchased and the grave remains in the total control of the Council. The Council decides who is to be buried in the grave and this might not be members of the same family. No memorial rights exist on public graves and so no headstone or other memorial can be erected. This form of burial requires only the payment of the interment fee, saving the cost of making the grave private. A private grave is where the Exclusive Right of Burial can be purchased for a period of 100 years or 50 years (25 years for the Cremated Remains Garden). The owner of the Right of Burial can decide who will be buried in the grave and memorials are permitted.
Please also see our "Buying a Grave" page.


Just out of interest, I watched this on Nat Geo last night.


Nowadays, vampires are a mainstay of TV, film and literature, but in medieval Europe they were a terrifyingly real prospect and omens of death and doom.
Taking the archaeological discovery of mutilated medieval skeletons buried in the west of Ireland as a starting point, Vampire Skeletons Mystery (premiering on Tuesday 6 March at 9pm) traces the rise of the vampire from medieval folk terror to 21st-century fantasy.
The fear of the undead seems rooted deep in the human psyche. But could a number of skeletons found buried in a quiet field really signal that vampires were once on the loose in Ireland?
Using medieval texts alongside cutting-edge forensic science, a team of experts from British and Irish universities explains how these ancient burials fit into a belief system that spanned medieval Europe and still survives in remote rural communities to this day.


Vampire Skeletons Mystery: Episode 1
Could a number of skeletons found buried in a quiet field really signal that vampires were once thought to be on the loose in Ireland?
Next Showing: Wednesday 7 March at 8:00PM - National Geographic Channel

Repeats: Thursday 8 March at 12:00AM - National Geographic Channel
Friday 9 March at 5:00PM - National Geographic Channel
Vikki Lawlor

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