Crawley’s oldest church opposes suggestions its graveyard be closed

Members of the oldest church in town have opposed suggestions its graveyard be closed and are looking for other solutions to counter its lack of space.

The aging footpath through the churchyard of St Nicholas Church, in Worth, is also causing problems for people with mobility difficulties, so plans have been drawn up for a new pathway to be built through the grounds.

jpco-26-2-14 St Nicholas'  Worth. Grave yard plans (Pic by Jon Rigby)

jpco-26-2-14 St Nicholas' Worth. Grave yard plans (Pic by Jon Rigby)

The plans also include the possibility of using an unconsecrated piece of land at the rear of the church as a memorial garden.

Once consecrated, the land could also be used for the burial of ashes.

The parochial church council at St Nicholas, Worth, is calling on members of the public to comment on the proposals.

An exhibition of the plans is on display at the church in Church Road and both parishioners and visitors are invited to have their say.

Rev Anthony Ball said: “We are in the process of consulting the public and our parishioners about plans we’ve got to improve access to the church for those who have mobility issues and also to create a new memorial garden to enable us to continue to provide a place of repose for loved one who have died in the parish.”

David Fry, of the parochial church council, said: “The churchyard is now getting full, so in a year or two we won’t be able to accept any more burials.

“The pathway is no longer level and has lumps and bumps. We have a temporary solution to fix that but the only sensible action is to put a new one in.”

The church bought the patch of unconsecrated land in 1995 at a cost of £1,200 with the intention of creating a memorial garden and erecting toilets – but the plans never saw the light of day.

Rev Ball added: The urgency of progressing these proposals is because there is a very limited amount of space in the existing churchyard for burials.

“Diocesan authorities have suggested that the churchyard be closed to new burials but we are reluctant to take this step without having an alternative in place.”

Once the consultation is over, the church will seek permission from Crawley Borough Council and the Diocese of Chichester to make the changes.