A YEAR-LONG project to unearth seven centuries-worth of the stories about people buried in a village churchyard has come to fruition with the publication of a new book.

The book, entitled St Mary’s Church Kirkby Fleetham, Monumental Inscriptions and Their Stories, was launched earlier this month at Kirkby Fleetham Christmas Fayre.

It was the result of a year of cleaning and transcribing the memorials, as well as researching the histories of the people memorialised in the graveyard and inside St Mary’s Church.

The book is a collaboration by Kirkby Fleetham residents Lesley Bottomley and Sheila Minto, who researched and published the stories associated with the headstones and memorials, while Neil Rough, supported the project by taking photographs to accompany the text.

St Mary’s is a 12th Century church, and many hundreds of people were interred there until the mid-19th Century when the graveyard was closed, except to those with existing family plots. A Chapel of Ease (St Andrew’s Church) was built at Great Fencote in 1847 and a new graveyard created there.

Lesley and Sheila carried out thorough research, including using the parish baptism, marriage and burial records held at North Yorkshire County Record Office. Online sources were particularly helpful in delving deeper into records such as Census returns, land records, wills and probate and press reports.

They said they enjoyed creating the book and hope local residents, as well as people from further afield, enjoy it. The book sold well at the Christmas Fayre held in Kirkby Fleetham Village Hall. All proceeds will be donated to St Mary’s Church.

Copies of the book are being sold at Kirkby Fleetham Village Hall Hub on Wednesday and Saturdays, from 10.15am to 12.15pm. Copies can also be purchased by contacting Sheila Minto by email at shminto25@gmail.com, or telephone 07775 600452, or Lesley Bottomley, telephone 07855961563. The cost is £10 plus postage and packing.