Washington church digitises 3,000 burial records to encourage people to reconnect with their ancestors

A Wearside church is encouraging people reconnect with their ancestors with a new community project mapping out where their forbears are buried.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 1:59 pm
Rev Nick Barr-Hamilton has created a website for people looking for their ancestors buried at St George's Church, Vigo Lane, Fatfield, Washington.

St George’s Church in Fatfield, Washington, is encouraging residents to explore their past and visit ancestors buried in the churchyard, with a new website allowing people to find the exact grave plots where their lost relatives lie.

The website features churchyard records of more than 3,000 burials dating back to the 1800s.

Nick Barr-Hamilton, the vicar at St George’s, is behind the project and.

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The 45-year-old said he wanted the initiative to bring the community together and give people an opportunity to explore their past. He said: “I hope people use the resource. People are interested in their history and love finding their roots and learning more about local history.”

Family history fans, genealogists and local history researchers often use burial records to help trace their family trees and learn more about communities and their past.

The team at St George’s has digitised all burial records from the church’s foundation in 1871.

Mr Barr-Hamilton said: “I’ve had emails off people saying thank you. People are really grateful we’ve done the work to find their ancestors.”

The first set of records for the old churchyard date from 1879 to 1970, and the second set for the new churchyard from 1933 onwards.

The churchyard was technically full by 1933 when the new churchyard was consecrated, but re-openings took place and some extra graves were created until it was closed and designated as an open space for the community under the parish council in 1971.

The graveyard project isn’t the church’s first foray into the online world.

Its comprehensive website features a raft of information about St George’s, as well as a 3D virtual reality your of the church building.

The community-focused church works with families, children and seniors throughout the Washington community with a number of groups including coffee mornings, lunch clubs, and support groups.

Future plans for St George's involve expanding the church to add an annex, which is currently in its second stage of its pre-planning application.