Grave project in Tllington

Tillington may be just a tiny hamlet nestling on the hill above the busy A272, but when it comes to state-of-the-art technology, nobody does it better.

And the latest project completed by villagers is a meticulously-researched ground plan of the cemetery accessible at the touch of a button on the Tillington village website.

It is also available to view by visiting the cemetery where a large laminated version sits in a specially-made oak cabinet.

It’s the work of Tillington’s computer whizz Dr Trevor Purnell, who heads the village’s very own print shop. He takes care of everything from the village magazine to church service sheets and the fixture programme for the cricket club.

“The thing that prompted me to do it,” said Dr Purnell, “was to help people research their family history.

“If anyone is looking for a grave in the village cemetery it will help quite a lot in identifying the grave and may give them more information than is available on the stone.”

And researchers visiting the village website are warmly greeted: “If you have managed to trace your ancestors to the Parish of Tillington, perhaps we can be of some assistance.

“Using the red buttons below you will find a ground plan of our current cemetery, together with burial records dating from around 1920.

“These records provide not only the plot number for cross referencing with the ground plan for location purposes, but also age and date of death/burial. We cannot claim that they are a complete record and therefore please use the ‘Contact us’ facility if you need any information or help.”

Dr Purnell’s painstaking work began with an old hand-written map of the cemetery provided by Tillington funeral directors W Bryder and Sons.

“It didn’t seem to be totally accurate, certainly it didn’t always correspond with the burial register in the church,” said Dr Purnell.

“So we decided to do it again and it was a case of using the hand-written records and going through the cemetery checking them off in the right position with the right name and trying to figure out the row system.

“When we had got them all in the right positions we had the task of converting the information into something that could be used via the computer.

“I also went through the burial records and tried to get more details than there were on the stone which I added alongside the names.”

Dr Purnell ended up with a spreadsheet four times bigger than the village printer could handle so he took it to a printer who produced the map and laminated it.

An oak cabinet was then paid for by the Friends of Tillington Church and made by Tillington cabinet maker Robin Hill.

There are some 400 plots in the cemetery which came into use in the l920s when the original cemetery around the church was closed.

Now Dr Purnell is hoping to begin work on a plan for the original church yard where some of the grave stones go back to the 1700s.