The Scriven Box Tomb

From the Churchyard Committee, August 2018

At the Finance Meeting in December 2014 Guy announced that one of the recommendations of the auditor was that too much money was being kept back in reserve funds for designated projects and asked the question if there were items which could be funded out of the reserve fund which might reduce it.  The Church Wall  reserve fund stood at £20, 000.

At the time the Churchyard Committee had reached the completion of its edging and reinstating the tarmac paths project on the North Side of the Church.   The matter of unsafe tombstones had been raised at Parochial Church Council and the Scriven box tomb, covered in ivy, was looking in a very sorry state. The top of the tomb had been dislodged and the open space inside had become a convenient den for local youth.   As the Parish Council’s Agreement suggests that abandoned graves would be maintained by the PC if no relatives could be found, it was agreed that the restoration of the Scriven tomb dating back to the early years of the 19th century would be a suitable project.

The Scriven Family has strong connections to Harpole having constructed many of its sandstone houses, their intermarriage into local village families, their land holdings gave employment to many of the males, and Richard Scriven gave the Parish its clock in 1841, his ancestors being the Rectors of the Parish Church. There is little doubt that the Scriven Tomb was worthy of restoration

Harpole only has two box tombs and because of their scarcity and their architectural simplicity they are worth maintaining as part of Harpole’s heritage.   The Scriven tomb, in particular, was about to collapse. The Parish Council agreed at their meeting of February 9th 2015 for Jeremy Calderwood (JC) to seek estimates for the work to be done.  Quotes were received for the Meeting held on July 13th 2015.  It was felt further quotes were required as only two masons replied out of the many invited to quote for the job. The job required too little stone work for the larger firms to make it worth their while.  Minutes of the PC Meeting of January 11th 2016 state that Clerk would pursue quotes for tomb as JC was not having much success.  This was repeated by the Clerk at both February and March  Meetings.   At the August 2016 Meeting, the Minutes state that ‘owing to difficulties in obtaining quotes, and as the situation had been going on for more than 12 months and many contractors had been approached ; it was decided to proceed with two quotations’.  JC took no part in the voting having declared family connections.   The Parish Council agreed to accept the cheaper quotation, which was for £2890.   As there had been a long wait for this decision to be taken other work had been scheduled by the stonemason which couldn’t be postponed.  The work would have to wait until the Summer of 2017.    Meanwhile the Parochial Church Council had to be informed.  The Rector raised further difficulties concerning the work required as he thought a Faculty was required.    Pleading that the work could be seen as repairs was not an option as the tomb would have to be dismantled.   The only way was to find a descendant of the family who would agree and ask for the work to be done.

The Cory Society came to the rescue as family descendants they must have the right to ask.  The Mary Scriven 1743 – 1804, wife of Edward Scriven 1737 – 1794, was the only child of Richard Cory 1691 – 1780 and his wife Mary of the ‘Manor’, 44 High Street, Harpole.  The Cory Society had generously donated their closing down Funds to the Harpole Heritage Association who in turn were delighted to increase the donation to £1000 towards the restoration of the tomb.  This was enough to appease the Rector’s concerns and so after much disappointment all seemed possible.

The difficulty to be faced now is that the original quote made nearly four years ago is understandably out of date and prices have gone up considerably.

Jason has set aside September – October for tackling the job which for Health and Safety reasons now requires two men, employing himself and his uncle, Peter Jeffery of Garners Way, both experienced in stone masonry and associated skills, for 20 days..

The job requires the careful dismantling of the tomb, the stone panels to be given a new plinth of worked stone to the same designs as previously, and a sufficient depth of footings to support the heavy masonry top.  The new Bath stone will be worked on site with traditional mason’s tools.   As the tomb is brick lined this would be reconstructed using the reclaimed bricks erected on new footings also..   The outer stone casings, which are in good condition, but are now unsupported due to the original iron fixings having rusted away, will be reattached to the brick lining with stainless steel fixings

It is inevitable that due to several unforeseen circumstances the price for the job has risen to

£4200

Are the Parish Council willing to accept the new quotation ?