Following the installation of a new safe accessible route to school from the main Lyndhurst carpark through the church avoiding the footpath along the main road the old stepped path through the churchyard was fenced off and was slowly disappearing under vegetation. If you looked closely at this old path you would have seen that it was made out of old gravestones. The gravestones have been moved to create the path from elsewhere in the graveyard and they do not contain burials under them.
As part of the original planning approval for the new path a requirement was that the old steps made from old gravestones was to be removed.
The programme of work is being managed by the New Forest National Park Authority, and has been given formal approval by Winchester Diocese and the Planning Authority. It will improve access to the churchyard’s important heritage features and is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The churchyard is maintained by New Forest District Council as a closed burial ground and the monuments are technically heirlooms. The church and the District Council responsibilities only require that the moments are safe for public access to the churchyard.
As part of the project the gravestones will all be cleaned and recorded using RTI photography (see the link below for more information) to read the faded inscriptions to help reveal the names of the people they memorialised. The hope is that the names will then be linked back to the burial registers and potentially their original burial location. It will also allow families to re-link their family histories with the headstones in the churchyard. The removed headstones will be used to create benches in the churchyard, but they will all be logged so if you are searching for a specific one we can show you where they have ended up.
Further work will see the footpath extended to allow easy access to Alice Liddell’s gravestone.
Three of the monuments in the churchyard are listed and are dealt with as Listed Buildings. These were recently repaired as part of National Lottery Heritage Funding managed by the New Forest National Park and have been removed from the Historic England Buildings at Risk register.
Previous RTI photography work has been carried out in St Michael’s which you can find on New Forest Knowledge here: Lyndhurst St Michaels & All Angels RTI
This article will be updated as the work progresses.
You can find out more about the St Michael’s & All Angels via one of the New Forest History Hit Films