A retired police officer has called on church leaders to pay greater attention to their burial grounds after a family grave and dozens of others were left surrounded by overgrown grass.
Richard Roome has spoken out about the state of the St Thomas Lower Ground graveyard in Ashton, after his wife Mavis became upset by the unkempt surroundings at the site.
We paid around £1,000 for a new headstone to be put up there and you can barely get to the grave, it’s so overgrownRichard Roome
Church officials say the family’s concerns will be relayed to parish priest, the Rev Jeremy Thomas, to prevent a reoccurence.
The main graveyard behind the historic church, between Warrington Road and Violet Street, has no maintenance issues.
But the Lower Ground burial road, off Windsor Road, is a different story, with three foot high wild grass obscuring tombstones.
Half of the plots had been cleared of the high grass as the Observer went to press.
But graves towards the eastern end of the cemetery, towards Heath Road and the rear of Glebe Avenue, continued to be affected.
While some memorials in this section date back to the late 19th century, and a number are leaning, there are some headstones which are less than five years old there.
Among those buried there are James William Naylor, a former Ashton bandmaster, his wife Violet and their son Harold. Retired police officer Richard, 79, who lives in Milton, believes that the state of the graveyard in recent weeks has been a “disgrace”.
He said: “We paid around £1,000 for a new headstone to be put up there and you can barely get to the grave, it’s so overgrown.
“The state of that lower cemetery has been a disgrace and it’s really concerning for the family.
“If there had been someone in the church then I would have gone in and given them both barrels because some of those stones there are beautiful and don’t deserve this kind of treatment.
“The top cemetery, nearer to the church, doesn’t seem to be as bad, and the graveyard at the Catholic Church isn’t in this condition,” added Richard.
A spokesman for St Thomas and St Luke’s Church, in Heath Road, said: “We were not aware that there was an issue with the cemetery.
“This will be reported to the vicar if it has been a concern.”
The main churchyard is home to eight World War One servicemen and three who lost their lives in the Second World War, while there are 10 from the First World War and four from the Second World War buried off Windsor Road.