Church leaders face a grave problem following the sale of Witchford vicarage

PUBLISHED: 13:00 15 February 2016

The Vicarage (The Rectory) Main Street. Witchford which has been sold. Picture: Steve Williams.

The Vicarage (The Rectory) Main Street. Witchford which has been sold. Picture: Steve Williams.

Archant

The imminent completion of the sale of Witchford vicarage has left church leaders with a grave problem.

Graves of Nathan Buckley and Violet Buckley. St Andrews Church Witchford. Picture: Steve Williams.Graves of Nathan Buckley and Violet Buckley. St Andrews Church Witchford. Picture: Steve Williams.

Access for the village grave digger has become difficult as the previous path to the burial ground is no longer available for use.

The five-bedrooom vicarage has been sold subject to contract with a price-tag of £650,000 and with the sale goes the path which has been used by the grave digger to access the village’s only burial area for many years. The alternative access, which is shared with farmers, becomes boggy in wet weather.

When the vicarage was used as a clergy house, gravediggers with larger machines could access the churchyard through the vicarage grounds.

A spokesman for Ely Diocese, said: “We have provided alternative access from the drove at the rear across glebe (church) land, which is convenient for the churchyard extension. Gravediggers with smaller machines can continue to gain access past the church building.”

But parish Councillor Rosemary Westwell said: “The gravedigger can’t take his digger down to the burial grounds in the usual way. He is stuck – he can’t get the digger down the drove, for after a couple of journeys his digger will get stuck in the mud.

“He could try going round the church but the path installed twists too much and is too narrow.”

Cllr Westwell also pointed out the village is not benefiting from the sale of the vicarage.

She felt some cash from the sale could be used to help pay for toilets at the church. The church is currently trying to raise £30,000 for the project.

The diocesan spokesman explained money from the sale of properties that are no longer needed goes towards providing alternative accommodation for clergy.

He said the parochial church council is separate to the diocese and is responsible for improvement work such as the installation of toilets.

“I am not aware of anywhere in the diocese where proceeds from the sale of a building has been given to the PCC,” said the spokesman, who also pointed out there have only been 11 burials in the last three years.

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