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Pyworthy History Group will be using a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help record information on gravestones in Pyworthy Parish Church

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

By Nicole Travers-Wakeford

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TRACING your family tree requires determination, dedication and countless hours of research.

A team of volunteers has embarked on a project at a rural parish church to make this mission easier for historians, genealogists and people keen to find out more about their family roots.

Pyworthy Local History Group was awarded thousands of pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help towards their indexing project.

The group will use the £4,300 grant to pay for an architect and surveyor to draw up a scale plan of the churchyard and to help gather information on the hundreds of gravestones on the plot.

So far, the history group has indexed around 570 gravestones.

Members believe they have around 100 more to check.

The information will be drawn into a plan which will be placed in a glass cabinet and mounted on the wall of Pyworthy Parish Church.

Secretary of the Pyworthy History Group, Diane Soall, said: "We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

"We are confident our project will benefit local residents as well as historians and genealogists from all over the world."

Some of the older gravestones date back to the 1700s and are suffering from erosion making them hard to read. Volunteers will take photographs of each stone which will also be included in the records. Once the project is completed, the information will be available online as well as in Holsworthy Museum and the Devon Records Office.

Pyworthy Church of England Primary School hopes to incorporate the group's findings into its curriculum, helping pupils learn information about their ancestors.

Chairman of Pyworthy History Group, John Burnard, said: "This project should benefit the local community and may also be of help on a wider scale.

"I would like to express my thanks to our secretary and the rest of the people involved for the time and effort they have put in to get this project off the ground."

Heritage Lottery Fund's acting head of the South West, Richard Bellamy said: "The information recorded on gravestones is often of enormous importance to genealogists and local historians.

"It can chart the significant events in the past of a local area and its prominent families.

"The work of the Pyworthy Local History Group will ensure key facts about the history of the parish can be preserved and made available for future generations."

Mr Burnard expects the project will be completed this year.

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