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Parents blast ‘immoral’ plans to turn their son’s burial plot into family garden

Ian Edwards was just three years old when he was buried in a plot of St Andrew’s Church in Wolferlow, Herefordshire, after dying from asphyxiation caused by a tumour

Ian Edwards is buried in a Herefordshire country churchyard

The parents of a little boy buried in a graveyard have blasted plans to make the church a residential property – which would leave his burial ground in the owner’s back garden.

Ian Edwards was buried in the grounds of St Andrew’s Church in Wolferlow, Herefordshire, after his death from asphyxiation caused by a tumour when he was just three years old.

His mum and dad are now embroiled in a bitter row with developers who want to transform the church into a residential property.

Ian’s plot sits directly next to the historic 12th-century church – which is also a Grade II listed building – meaning his grave would be below the window of anyone who bought the property.

Ian’s dad Colin Edwards, 71, is battling with council bosses over “immoral” plans to transform the sacred place into a country dwelling.

Colin still lives and works on a farm within sight of the church and has maintained the church grounds in the village for the past 35 years.

He and former wife Laura Edwards, 65, are also angry after Ian’s grave was fenced off ahead of the proposed redevelopment.

The pair fear that once the church is converted into a property they will be overlooked by its residents while laying flowers at Ian’s graveside.

They have also criticised the local CofE diocese after they sold the property without consulting the relatives of the deceased buried in the churchyard.

Colin said he even tried to buy the church himself “to just leave it as it is” but was outbid by property developers and worries it could now become a holiday home.

He said: “It’s a house of God, not a holiday let. The dead should be given some dignity.

“You wouldn’t knock Westminster Abbey down to convert it into flats so why have the church allowed this to happen?

“I have mown the grass and trimmed the hedges for over 30 years. Who will look after the graves once it’s developed?



After his funeral he was buried in a grave outside St Andrews church in Wolferlow, Herefordshire
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Image:

Hereford Times / SWNS)




“The fact it has been done without any consultation with relatives is also deeply concerning.

“The church has been part of this hamlet for generations and I’m surprised the diocese have just decided to part with it for the sake of some money.

“It is a sacred place and now my son’s grave and other relatives of mine are going to end up in somebody’s front garden.

“It will remain a working churchyard so I’m also not sure why the occupants would want to watch a funeral taking place outside their window anyway.”

Ian’s mum Laura Edwards, 65, of Bromyard, Herefordshire, still visits her son’s grave several times a year.



Laura Edwards, 64, can no longer visit her son’s grave as it’s been sectioned off for redevelopment
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Image:

Hereford Times / SWNS)




She said she was devastated when she went to lay some flowers recently to find her son’s headstone inaccessible and lying behind a chain-link fence.

She said: “I just find the whole thing completely immoral. When I go to my son’s grave I don’t want to have a family watching TV looking out their windows at me.

“It’s a time for quiet reflection and you want your relatives to be in a peaceful place. I was devastated when I went up there and found it all fenced off.

“There has never been any signs up so why all of a sudden are they fencing it off for safety reasons?

“This could quite easily be turned into a holiday home so there could be all sorts of people there while I’m trying to grieve my son.



Floor plans show the proposed development, which would leave young Ian’s grave in the back garden of a family
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Image:

Herefordshire Council / SWNS)




“His grave is right up against the church window, it just seems completely disrespectful.

“They have sold it to the highest bidders without any care for the relatives of the deceased there.

“Because my son’s grave is under 50 years old it cannot be disturbed but their plans include digging up older graves for sewage and garages.

“It just doesn’t seem right to me. It has all been done without any communication either, my husband offered to buy it so he could continue to maintain it.

“But he had to chase them when he didn’t hear back to be told ‘I’m sorry, somebody has outbid you’.

“He didn’t even get a chance to counter offer.







“He has maintained the grounds there for 35 years by himself. We have other family members there who died.

“It just the diocese has had little consideration for the relatives feelings and haven’t contacted us at any point to get our views on the matter.”

The Diocese of Hereford confirmed that the sale, believed to be in the region of £75,000, would not go through without planning permission first being granted.

They also apologised for the distress caused by the some of the graves currently being inaccessible, adding: “We are working with the insurer’s surveyor to seek a way forward that will allow access to the graves while still ensuring visitors’ safety.”

Church representatives have offered to meet the family in an attempt to address their concerns.


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