Safety check at St Peter’s Church in Arlesey reveals 15 tombstones in danger of falling

Public safety is our first concern, said Rev Geoffrey Boult.

Public safety is our first concern, said Rev Geoffrey Boult. - Credit: Archant

A safety check on tombstones at a church in Arlesey, after two stones fell in two months, revealed that 15 more were in danger of toppling.

There are about 1,500 marked graves and 800 tombstones in the yard by St Peter’s Church, which dates back to the 12th century.

The check was carried out by the vicar, the Rev Geoffrey Boult, and a member of the parochial church council.

“Public safety is our first concern,” said the vicar.

“In Glasgow last year, in a civil cemetery, a stone fell on some children and an eight-year-old boy was killed – so we decided to act quickly.

“The really old ones that you see leaning over tend to be really stable, actually – it’s the modern ones that have been falling over more often.

“There are three main causes. Some are cemented to a base stone, and the join has failed over the years. Others are attached with metal pins, and they have corroded.

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“And in some cases the base stone has moved after the soil shifted, leaving it unstable.

“The recommendation from the insurance company is to check about once a year.”

Where unstable stones were found, they were immediately labelled and laid flat.

Rev Boult added: “The plan is to try to advise the families, as they will have to arrange repairs.

“There will be some we won’t be able to find contacts for, I’m sure, so then we’ll have to ask the community to raise some money as we don’t have any to do it ourselves.

“If you see a stone on the ground please do not try to raise it up again. This should be done by professionals.”

A list of affected stones is on the churchyard’s north gate, with the name and year of death of each person.

Relatives should contact the vicar at vicar@arlesey.org.uk, or call 01462 731227.