Stolen Grave Stone from Lancaster Priory

Every year or so, I visit a family grave. The grave in question belonged to an ancestor called George Airey, who died in 1855, so it’s fair to say we ‘weren’t close’. But as my 4x great-grandfather, I liked to show my respects, especially as his gravestone is situated in the lovely grave yard on Castle Hill, Lancaster. During his life he had lived at Bowerham Farm, south of the city, on the site now occupied by the University of Cumbria (previously St Martin’s College or Bowerham barracks).

I visited a couple of weeks ago to find the stone wasn’t there. Attributing this to a deficient memory, I walked around the sodden grass looking for it. Where I thought it had been was a grassless patch. I enquired of the verger who said that recent floods had disturbed some graves and that it may have been moved. I duly contacted the vicar.

Rev Newlands had diligently made enquiries and no official record of its removal was made. We have therefore concluded that it has been stolen. It must have been heavy at six feet long and four feet wide, but this, apparently, makes it more desirable for flagging. This is a growing problem; people are becoming more resourceful in their buying of materials and have resorted to stealing grave markers.

George Airey doesn’t care- he is either awaiting judgement or enjoying the benefits of God’s forgiveness in heaven- but I mind. A link with my familial past is gone and Lancaster’s historical record is diminished. Someone, somewhere, however, is enjoying a lovely new patio.