At the start of the project there were seven team members, which was reduced to five at the half way point. Heather Millard moved away from the area and Hans Hanson very sadly died after a short illness and in whose memory this part of the project is dedicated.
The project initially focused on the graves and the team was split into small groups with responsibility for the transcriptions of all the headstones for particular sectors of the churchyard. The headstones were systematically photographed and a team member was made responsible for drawing up an accurate plan of the churchyard and the positioning of the graves. Transcribing the headstones was a time consuming task due to uncertain weather conditions and the very poor state of some of the inscriptions. The drawing together of the inscriptions on CD and linking them up with its appropriate photograph of the headstone was a further time consuming task. The Nottingham Family History Society carried out a survey of the churchyard in 1985 (Volume XXXIX Monumental Inscriptions) which was very helpful. However, we found that the 1985 survey was incomplete in that headstones had been overlooked and any accompanying script on the headstone omitted. Weathering is a constant problem and some inscriptions legible in 1985 were illegible at the start of the project in 2007. A number of techniques were developed during the course of the project to help the decipherment of the inscriptions. Other difficulties included attempting to identify those buried in the churchyard with no headstone but only an unmarked bowl or vase. We were fortunate in finding people who could identify some of the graves. We now have a complete index of those shown on the headstones.
Another part of the project involved recording, photographing and mapping the internal memorials of All Saints Church. We knew that burials had taken place in the past in the church and had a map showing where some were located and who was interred there. But when we took up some of the carpets in the hope of locating and uncovering inscriptions nothing was revealed so possibly the graves had been covered with a screed at some time or hidden beneath the wooden parquet flooring.
A further aspect of the project involved tracking down obituaries of those buried in the churchyard along with photographs and other records documenting their lives. Descendants of those families who lived in Elston and were buried in the churchyard have already been in touch with the project team and provided further information, including family trees which we hope to place on the website “Can you help us “ page, space permitting.
We have also focused on those who appear on the village war memorials situated in the church porch who died in both World Wars and have prepared suitable pen pictures. This has included seeking out census returns, photographs, family trees and obituaries in old copies of the parish magazine and the Newark Advertiser. We have also transcribed pages from the old burial registers for All Saints Church from 1829 to 1940.
Finally we now have an accurate map of the churchyard with a numbered key to the headstones and plaques of all those who are buried or cremated up to 31st December 2009. We also have a similar plan and key to the monuments and memorials within the church for the benefit of visitors for the same period. A headstone trail leaflet and a similar guide to the Church memorials is being produced to complement the Project.
It is hoped that in the future more of the old burial registers for All Saints dating back to the sixteenth century will be transcribed by the team to add to the rich history of those Elston families interred in the churchyard and be of vital help to those researching their Elston ancestors.
At the end of the Project a leather bound volume was produced containing the entire results of the research carried out by the team and which will be on show in the church protected in an oak and glass display cabinet made by a local craftsman.