Families 'shocked' at proposals to move gravestones at disused Lincolnshire church

Families say they are ‘shocked’ and ‘upset’ at plans to move gravestones at a disused church to make way for a residential driveway.
The disused St Peter's Church, in Midville.The disused St Peter's Church, in Midville.
The disused St Peter's Church, in Midville.

A planning application has been submitted for the redevelopment of St Peter’s Church in Midville into a residential home – with proposals to relocate numerous headstones within the grounds.

The plans, submitted to East Lindsey District Council, have received a number of objections from those who have relatives buried in the graveyard.

However, the applicants – who are London-based artists – say they want to be “as respectful as possible” – with their plans still allowing the public to access the grounds.

Flowers left on one of the graves at St Peter's Church, in Midville.Flowers left on one of the graves at St Peter's Church, in Midville.
Flowers left on one of the graves at St Peter's Church, in Midville.

The gravestones which may be moved under the plans are all older than 50 years – which the application states is ‘in accordance with Church of England protocols’.

One objector, from nearby Benington, writes: “I think it is very disrespectful for families like myself who have relatives buried. My family is very distraught and upset by the prospect of our relatives resting places being disturbed. My dad has his mother, father and brother buried at Midville. Our whole family is shocked and upset.”

Another, from Staffordshire, who has relatives buried at the site comments: “I do object to is the removal of headstones… which are my grandparents [names], also my sister was interred in the same grave who died at a very young age in the 1950s. I think it's disgraceful that this is even being considered.”

A third, from Stickney, added: “My grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ gravestones should not be moved for they are tidy and cared for.”

The applicants state the plans would see the “conversion and restoration of the church of St Peter Midville to a dwelling house for use as an artist's residency space”.

The Standard approached the applicants for a comment. They told us: “We understand how sensitive this is and we want to be as respectful as possible to those who have family members buried in the graveyard at Midville. We have made plans that leave a large part of the churchyard untouched as well as the war graves and more recent burials. We should add that we are not developers but artists and are looking to preserve the building and area around it with as little alteration as possible and retaining public access to the grounds. We are also reaching out to those who have raised concern.”

The Grade II-listed building, in Station Road, has not been used for worship since December, 2014. It is believed to have been built in 1819.

Plans, if approved, would see the building converted into a two-bedroomed dwelling, with a driveway at the front leading to the left-hand side of the building. A number of graves on the right-hand side of the building are also proposed to be relocated to the front of the site.

The application states: “Internally the vestry will be converted to a bathroom, the balcony space will be levelled and converted to the master bedroom. A glass screen from the balcony to the ceiling will be installed for sound protection from the main space which will remain unchanged. A kitchenette will be installed under the balcony area. The floor will be removed, a new slab installed with underfloor heating. Where possible the original floor will be re-installed or replaced with matching materials. Externally we will reinstate the roof guttering and downpipes that were previously present.

“Also a vehicle access route will be created with a gravel area to the north of the church for a minimum of two car parking spaces.”

The church and grounds were offered for sale under the instruction of The Church Commissioners for England and the Diocese of Lincoln.

The Standard approached the Diocese of Lincoln for a response last week, but have yet to receive one. East Lindsey District Council has stated it does not comment on open applications.