A rare burial: Farewell to one of Preston's oldest residents

The bones discovered near St John's Minster in Preston will finally be reburied.
The bones discovered near St John's Minster in Preston will finally be reburied.

A rallying call has been issued to help lay to rest one of the city’s more ancient former residents.

The rather unusual re-burial comes after the remains were discovered back in February 2016 by Lancashire County Council highways workmen excavating Church Street outside St John’s Minster.

More churches are using green power

More churches are using green power

Police were subsequently called to the scene and a police tent was set up around the discovery.

Now, some two and a half years later, it has been revealed that the remains are more than 450 years old, pre-dating 1550.

And Keith Simpson, the Parochial Church Council Secretary for Preston City Council Parish, has explained how the remains will recieve a full Catholic ceremony – known as a requiem – and is calling for the people of Preston to come along to the Minster next Wednesday and witness it.

Looking back on that unusual day in 2016, Keith said: “I remember coming up from St George’s Church [to the Minster] and seeing police and thinking ‘they’ve dug up some bones haven’t they?”

The bones discovered near St John's Minster in Preston will finally be reburied.

The bones discovered near St John's Minster in Preston will finally be reburied.

55-year-old Keith revealed how the area of Church Street that the remains were found in form part of the Minster’s historical graveyard, which itself dates back to the 1500s.

Preston-native Keith added: “We don’t know what sex the remains are and if it’s actually just one person or more. The bones have just been dated. The area they were found in was historically a graveyard. The Minster is older than it looks. It’s pushing 1,000 years in total.

“It expanded around the back, across to the Twelve Tellers and beyond.”

A Lancashire Police spokesman said that, like with any situation where remains are discovered, they were sent away to a specialist team to determine whether they were human or animal.

“We now have a duty to do this – legally too,” explained Keith. We have taken responsibility for this as the parish and it will be done in a respectful and safe way.”

The funeral will be led by the Priest of Preston, The Ven Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster.

Keith added: “There could only be three of us there – myself, Michael, and a police officer – as a mark of respect but if more attend that would be great.

“I’ll have never been to anything like this before; it’s very strange. After all, I suspect this kind of burial doesn’t happen often!”

The remains will be laid to rest in the Minster’s memorial garden in an unmarked grave.

Local funeral director Martin’s, based in Tulketh Brow, have kindly donated their services for the day.

They aren’t expected to get the remains until Tuesday evening or the Wednesday morning before the service at midday.