THE Church of England has formalised an agreement with a digital-mapping company, Atlantic Geomatics, to record all 19,000 of its churchyards.
The process, piloted last year (News, 21 February 2020), involves the use of a specialised backpack, which takes thousands of measurements each second as its wearer walks through the churchyard. It also stores photographs of gravestones.
The results will be available online for those seeking the graves of forebears. Atlantic Geomatics must sign a memorandum of understanding with each diocese, and gain permission from each parish, before it starts surveying. There is no charge for the survey, nor for a basic search facility. Additional services will be available for a subscription.
External funding for the project has been provided by Historic England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Caring for God’s Acre, as well as from online genealogy research companies, who will be able to offer their services through the search platform.
The Bishop of Ramsbury, Dr Andrew Rumsey, who is a joint lead bishop for church and cathedral buildings, said: “This impressive national project will make a huge difference to those researching family history, as well as easing the administrative burden on parishes. It will improve management of burial grounds, and make information more fully accessible than ever before, supported by additional services by subscription for those wishing to go further.
“It will soon be possible to visit almost any Anglican burial ground in the country and see in real time the location of burial plots. For those researching at distance in the UK or overseas, the digital records will place detailed information from churchyards at their fingertips.”
More information here