Last year, in the English midlands city of Wolverhampton discovered human remains during construction of a new city market. Eventually 20 sets of remains would be found, children under age 7, who had been buried around the Temple Street Independent Chapel in the eighteenth century.
The chapel served a congregation of dissenters from the Church of England. As dissenters, they would not have been allowed burial at an Anglican church. And as times changed, the Temple and its graveyard were forgotten and built over.
The hard divisions and hard feelings over religion those buried would have known have long eased, and it became important to the city to honor these remains with dignity.
Head of business services at Wolverhampton Council, Colin Parr, said: “We felt it was appropriate to show them the service that the citizens of the city deserved and to mark with a plaque also at the new market. We’ve done them proud and I hope people see that, there was a lot of dignity in the service, it was a fitting send off.”
After the placing of a plaque at the new city market, a service for reburial was held at St John’s church, led by the rector, the Rev David Wright, based on the 16th Century Book of Common Prayer.
The Rev David Wright said;
“These are people who were buried at a chapel nearby, which would have been in the parish of St John, so it’s the most local church for their reburial. There’s a dignity in that.
When people are buried the idea is that they are buried permanently but if their remains are accidentally disturbed as in this case, then the appropriate thing is to rebury them with a proper service. Everything in the service was of an age of when those people were buried, so we tried as best we can to give them something familiar to them.
It’s always the idea that when someone is buried its permanent, but inevitably as time goes on remains are accidentally discovered, and the appropriate thing to do is remove the remains and and bury them in a cemetery which is rather more peaceful than beneath a market. There has been a good balance from the council, at all times there has been due dignity to the remains and a very thorough archaeological investigation, the market has moved on and is a great asset to the city.”
From the church, the remains were driven past an honor guard at the new market where they had been discovered before proceeding to their new resting places at the Wolverhampton Council’s Danescourt Cemetery