The remains of a 450-year-old Prestonian were given a fit and proper send off in what was described as a “totally humbling” experience by the Vicar of Preston.
Dozens of city folk took their seats at St John’s Minster in Church Street to lay to rest one of Preston’s more ancient former residents, whose remains were discovered in Church Street some two and a half years ago by Lancashire County Council workmen.
In what was a rather unique re-burial ceremony yesterday morning, The Vicar of Preston, The Ven Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster, who led the day, said: “For a whole chapel to gather and remember someone from 450 years ago was a totally, totally humbling experience for me.
“It was a sign of how in our society, we honour everyone in Preston whether we know them or don’t. We hold them in our prayers.”
The remains were brought to the Minster by Martin’s Funeral Directors, based in Tulketh Brow, after which a requiem mass and the re-burial of the remains took place either side of a tea and coffee break.
In the requiem mass Archdeacon Michael spoke of how the service was “slightly different” than usual, adding: “There is a saying which is we judge a society by how they treat those who are most vulnerable.
“I judge a community by how they treat those who are often forgotten and it’s testament to this city of Preston that you have chosen to be here today in honour people that you certainly do not know.”
Owner of Martin’s, Martin Wootton, said “it brings back a lot of memories” after a similar case in 1992 which saw discovered remains re-buried at the front of the Minster.
The 59-year-old said: “It’s something very different in the day to day runnings of things.
“It’s also necessary and must be done. It’s nice to be able to help in what is a beautiful place.”
The newer remains were buried next to those buried in 1992 in an unmarked grave under an English Yew tree in the Minster’s front lawn.
The location was chosen as it was the closest available space to where they were initially disturbed.
One of the day’s organisers was Keith Simpson, the Parochial Church Council Secretary for the Preston City Council Parish.
55-year-old Keith said: “It’s been a slightly unusual day, I have never done anything like this before.
“I’ve done a funeral without a body before in Broughton which was unusual but never something like this.”
Among the crowd in attendance was siblings Ken Benson and Lynn Wilson.
80-year-old Ken said: “The reason we came comes because my ancestry with the church goes back a long way.
“We have a lot of family in the graveyard dating back to the 1700s so we wanted to represent the family.”
Among those in his family is great, great grandfather Daniel Ascroft, who got married in the Minster on Christmas Day in 1847.
Lynn said: “It’s a lovely thing. If you are dug up by accident you deserve a proper service in this beautiful church.”