London, Feb.22 : The Somerset Cricket Club has won the right to expand its cricket ground in Taunton, the venue of many six-hitting exploits during the last 126 years.
The attractive county ground, which has seen the likes of big hitters, from Harold Gimblett to Ian Botham, has won permission to extend its outfield into the St. James's Church graveyard.
Excavatory work will begin from today after two years of negotiations with the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Right Reverend Peter Price.
It has been agreed that the graves of at least 50 people will be reinterred, reports The Times.
Fifty bodies, which were buried between 1858 and 1888, are in the section of churchyard. No records exist of their names, not even on tombstones that disintegrated in the 1970s.
As yet no relative has come forward to object. It may have helped the case of the club that the Archdeacon of Taunton, the Ven John Reed, is a cricket follower.
The club is paying 75,000 pounds for the section of churchyard. The coffins have disintegrated so the skeletal remains will be placed in a single box and buried under what will become a grassy mound for spectators to sit on, which has been named after Harold Gimblett, whose arrival at the crease would draw clergymen from their ecclesiastical duties.
The South West Regional Development Agency is helping Somerset to fund the project, which is part of a 60 million pound redevelopment.
Archaeologists will excavate the graves and the reinterment will be marked by a church service.
The agreement will allow the club to bring its boundary 70 yards (64m) from the pitch in accordance with international status. Its straight boundaries are among the shortest in first-class cricket.
Phil Frost, the long-serving, award-winning club groundsman, is the only objector to the scheme. He is refusing to use the earth from the churchyard as topsoil for his square.
Story first published: Friday, February 22, 2008, 14:15 [IST]
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