There is a fascinating history behind the charming structures at the entrance to churchyards. Lychgates – Lych is the saxon word for corpse.
Lychgates hold a special place in our community, acting as a bridge between the sacred space of the Churchyard and the secular world beyond. Historically, these beautifully crafted structures served several important purposes:
- Shelter for the departed: Lychgates were often used as a shelter to house the deceased before burial during inclement weather. Families would gather here, seeking refuge as they prepared for the funeral procession
- Symbolism of Transition: These gates symbolize the passage between life and death, as well as the transition from the secular world to the sacred space of the Churchyard. They stand as a testament to the Christian belief in the afterlife and the continuity of the soul.
- Gathering point: Lychgates are also a common gathering point for mourners and the clergy before the funeral procession. They provide a place for prayers and blessings before the deceased journey to their final resting place.
So next time you pass by a Lychgate you will know the reason these structures exist. Imagine the countless stories shared under the shelter of these gates, stories that continue to connect us to our past.
Take a moment to appreciate the significance of the lychgates and the sense of community they inspire. They remind us of our shared history, our values and the enduring bonds that unit us.
There are many locally including, High Littleton, Timsbury, Camerton, Kilmersdon and Stratton-on-the-Fosse.
Written by Georgia & Jane Bishop