Remains of 2,600 people will be exhumed if HS2 goes ahead

Mike Farley standing in the grounds of the former Stoke Mandeville church
Mike Farley standing in the grounds of the former Stoke Mandeville church

The final resting place of thousands of departed souls will be disrupted when HS2 rips through the Buckinghamshire countryside.

The site and burial ground of the old Stoke Mandeville church lies in the direct line the high speed train will take.

And if it goes ahead the remains of the 2,600 people buried there will have to be exhumed.

Mike Farley, vice president of Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society, is calling for the remains to be housed in a new legacy garden and building.

He said: “HS2 are committed to the advance archaeological examination of significant pieces of local heritage of which this, although certainly not the only example in Buckinghamshire, is probably the most important.

“But when it is all over what is to happen to the human remains and church fragments?

“We would like to see a Stoke Mandeville legacy garden, a piece of land set aside with funding for a building, to contain the remaining tombstones and archaeological fragments from the church.”

The burial register for the old Norman church, which was demolished in 1966, contains the names and occupations of an eclectic mix of people including shoemaker William Eldridge and gentleman Charles Ligo.

Today only a mound of masonry and a handful of tombstones stand on the site, which is set in a pleasant wooded nature reserve.

HS2 spokesman David Meechan said: “We understand the desire for a specific reburial site for the people discovered and for the related architectural fragments and monuments to go on display.

“We will continue talking to the local community about this.”