Final resting place not so final

FOR more than a hundred years the grounds of Jesus and Mary Convent were her final resting place.But now an extra and unexpected journey must be made by this unknown Sister, taking her away from her grave in the grounds of the religious community where she had devoted at least the last years of her earthly life.

FOR more than a hundred years the grounds of Jesus and Mary Convent were her final resting place.

But now an extra and unexpected journey must be made by this unknown Sister, taking her away from her grave in the grounds of the religious community where she had devoted at least the last years of her earthly life.

There is no tombstone and nothing to help put a name to the remains but it is believed they are of a Sister from the convent who was buried around 1894.

She was laid to rest in what is now St Mary's, a new Ipswich housing development in Woodbridge Road and it was while workmen were clearing way for further housing her grave was unearthed.


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Exhumation processes have now begun and it is expected the last services for this unknown will be carried out at the end of December.

Melton-based Hopkins Homes is developing the former convent site and with the Trustees of The Religious of Jesus & Mary, have consulted Ipswich firm of funeral directors, Farthing, Singleton and Hastings to carry out the removal of the Sister's remains.

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Being the longest established undertakers in Ipswich Luke Farthing said it is quite likely that they could have been connected to the Sister's burial at the convent.

"Singleton's began in 1840 and Hastings in 1874 and Farthings came to Ipswich in the mid 1950's," said Mr Farthing who runs the business with his brother.

Mr Farthing's grandfather was a builder and undertaker in the Felixstowe area then his son took over and came to Ipswich.

He explained exhumation is quite rare with the main reasons due to former burial sites being cleared and redeveloped such as at the former convent site.

"These occasions need to be handled with the same degree of commonsense and sensitivity as would a burial. Total respect is given for the dead person and for others there, whether it be relatives or members of the general public.

"In many ways an exhumation is a total reversal of a burial," he added.

With at least a century having elapsed it is almost guaranteed the Sister's remains will need to be placed in a new coffin ready for reburial or for removal to the Chapel of Rest to await burial instructions.

Mr Farthing said the area will be closed off as much as possible to give the occasion privacy. There is usually an environmental health officer present, more so if the burial is not too many years before, to see things are carried out properly.

"Before anything can be done," said Mr Farthing, "the authority of the Home Office is required or that of the Bishop's Faculty if it is on consecrated ground."

The former Jesus and Mary Convent comes under the jurisdiction of the Disused Burial Grounds Act, and in order to comply with the regulations Hopkins Homes is appealing for anyone connected to a deceased person whose remains were interred less than 50 years ago on this site to contact them.

Also, anyone who is an heir, executor, administrator or relative of the Sister needs to contact Hopkins Homes at Melton Park House, Melton, Woodbridge, IP12 1TJ by December 12, 2003.

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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