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Durham church commemorates babies buried in unmarked graves

by Kelly Valencia
St. Cuthbert’s Church.jpg - Banner image
Diocese of Durham

St. Cuthbert’s Church, located on North Road in Durham, is set to erect a memorial honouring babies buried in unmarked graves. While details about these infants are scarce, it's known that many lost their lives during birth or early infancy and were laid to rest in the churchyard.

According to Rev Canon Caroline Dick, the church’s vicar, the idea for this memorial project stems from the enduring relationship between the church and the University Hospital of North Durham.

She said: “In the past, in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, babies who were born at birth or died and then miscarried or miscarriages were buried in the churchyard. And over the years, we've had a number of requests from people asking to see where their babies have been buried. And as a result of this, we've devised this baby Memorial Project.”

About three years ago, a fundraising campaign was launched to gather funds for a 6ft by 4ft structure designed by London-based artist Lara Sparey. This memorial will be situated on the south side of St. Cuthbert’s, with seating provided on both sides.

The church has also initiated a campaign to fund the construction of a new path leading to the memorial, ensuring full accessibility. To complement other funding, including support from Durham County Council, a JustGiving page has been set up with a target of £10,000.

The church aims for the memorial to serve as a place where anyone in the community affected by the loss of a baby or child can come to reflect, remember, and find comfort.

The memorial is scheduled to be erected in April, followed by a special service to mark its installation shortly thereafter.

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