A FRIENDS group has been set up to maintain the cemetery at a Grade II listed Leeds church amid claims its owners are failing to act.
The Church of England sold St John’s Church in Roundhay in 2010 for a nominal £1 to the Pentecostal City Mission (PCM), a small London-based evangelical church.
St John’s, which was built in 1826, is not in use and it has been claimed that the mission are not maintaining the grounds.
The Friends of Roundhay St Johns has been set up, which has around 30 members.
The group organises regular working parties to maintain the churchyard, which is still used for burials in family plots.
And a Leeds funeral director has said his business has recently had problems dealing with the church’s new owners when trying to confirm dates for funerals.
Friends group member Sue Edwards, 63, of Pontefract, is concerned about the future of the cemetery at St John’s.
Her sister Judith McManus and father Douglas Raymond Horne are buried in a family plot in the churchyard along with her mother Kathleen Horne’s ashes.
Mrs Edwards said: “We are concerned because the churchyard is not being maintained by the Pentecostal City Mission Church. They have no pride in the grounds at all.
“You don’t want to visit a family plot in a churchyard which is falling into rack and ruin.”
Friends group member Mark Wilson, 54, of Seacroft, is a regular volunteer. He said: “The grass was as high as the headstones before we started work in the churchyard.”
One Leeds funeral director, who did not want to be named, said: “It appears to me that they (The PCM) are not looking after the churchyard. We have had a few funerals there and we have struggled to get hold of them. It has caused delays in confirming when a funeral can be held because we have been waiting to hear back.”
No-one from the Pentecostal City Mission was a available to comment.
– The churchyard at St John’s at Roundhay includes the graves of a number of members of the influential Lupton family,
The Duchess of Cambridge is directly descended from the Luptons and her father, Michael Middleton, was born in Leeds.
The Lupton family played major industrial and civic roles in the development of Leeds, particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The bloodline to the Duchess of Cambridge, formerly Catherine Middleton, was established when Olive Lupton married Noel Middleton, a Leeds solicitor and the Duchess’s paternal great grandfather, in 1914.
Olive’s father, Francis Lupton, an alderman on Leeds Council who died in 1921, is one of several family members buried at St John’s.