Work has started to remove headstones from the oldest graveyard in Methodism at Cross Hills, Greetland.
Young church members and Calderdale Family History Society have recorded all transcriptions on gravestones and headstones along with a photographic record of each grave.
It is intended to exhume the remains from approximately 300 graves to release the land for housing.
That work is being done by the council’s cemetery department in accordance with licences issued by the Ministry of Justice. The remains will be reinterred in a grave identified as being “Greetland Methodist Church” in Elland Cemetery and a full record will be maintained of all the remains moved from their initial resting place.
Licences have also been obtained for the ashes from the graves with are the first and last burials in the graveyard to be reintered in the memorial garden which is to be part of the new church at Cross Hills.
It is hoped to retain as many gravestones and headstones as possible to form paths and terraces within the new development.
Before work started an act of devotion took place at the grave of John Hirst - he died on May 16, 1778 and was the first person to be buried at the site.
Church treasurer and project manager Geoff Butler, said: We have tried to keep people continually involved regarding the works in the graveyard, acting sensitively and transparently, and we hope people will understand what is taking place.
“Should people have any questions please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01422 373559.”
The church - and nearby Lindwell Methodist Church - both closed last year and worshippers currently meet at St Thomas’s Church, Greetland, until development is completed.