history & archaeology
In May 2014 the Vicar, the Revd Andrew De Smet, conducted an unusual interment in the 'new' churchyard at St Gregory's Minster. As the law required, human remains previously disturbed by excavations in the old churchyard close to the church itself were reverently reinterred.
The bone remains were first taken to G & M Agar, Funeral Directors, in Kirkbymoorside where they lay in the Chapel of Rest before being placed in a fine coffin generously donated by Agars. The coffin had been made some years previously by the late Mr George Agar as a showpiece of his work. A plaque identifying the remains within was provided by Agars and attached to the coffin lid. Opportunity had been previously taken to establish the date of the remains, which included three skulls - one female and two male - in strikingly well-preserved condition. It was found that the remains represent between them more than a thousand years of Christian burial in Kirkdale.
The graveside ceremony, adapted by the Revd Andrew from the regular Anglican funeral service, acknowledged the antiquity of the oldest remains by the inclusion of a prayer of the Anglo-Saxon Church (in translation). The choir sang, unaccompanied, Purcell's setting of 'Thou knowest Lord the secrets of our hearts'.
Subsequently a headstone - gift of The Friends, supplied at a generously discounted cost by J. Rymer, Funeral Directors & Memorial Consultants, of York - was placed on the grave. The inscription reads:
Here lie the remains of several men and women dating from the 9th to the 19th century archaeologically excavated from the churchyard and solemnly reinterred May 2014. May they rest in peace and rise in glory.
The grave, given for convenience a north-south orientation, lies underneath the mulberry tree presented by The Friends to mark the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen. The gate giving access to it from the car-park (adjacent to the Stables and mounting block) has been renovated as a gift from The Friends and is known as The Friends' Gate. In due course, when funding becomes available, consideration may be given to placing a seat in what has become de facto The Friends' Corner.