The Grindon Medieval Coped Grave Cover

Over the past couple of years several people have noted how much the condition of the fourteenth century gable ended grave slab of Roger De Fulthorpe (located in St. James Churchyard, Thorpe Thewles) has deteriorated. This is particularly evident from the comparative images below. The upper of these was taken at Grindon c.1940 while the second was taken by TTHG in 2005 some decades after its removal to its present location in St. James churchyard, Thorpe Thewles.

It is probable that this tomb cover originally occupied a position inside the Fulthorpe Chapel of St. Thomas a Becketís church in Grindon before being relocated within the churchyard. Exactly when its relocation occurred is unknown but in was certainly recorded as being in the churchyard by the antiquarian and county historian William Hutchinson in 1785.

Considering that the c.1940 photograph represents the grave slab after at least 155 years of exposure to the elements and the second after a further 65 years it can be seen how fast its rate of deterioration has increased during recent times.

The tomb cover of Roger De Fulthorpe pictured at Grindon c.1940 (top) and at Thorpe Thewles in 2007 (bottom)

After consultation with Grindon Parochial Church Council (GPCC) TTHG applied and were awarded a grant from the Church of England to commission a professional monument conservator's report. Subsequently Nigel Copsey, a specialist stone monument conservator from North Yorkshire,  has undertaken an assessment of the monument's condition and has submitted a report which recommends a series of basic conservation and on-going monitoring plus condition management measures which he advises should be applied to the monument. TTHG has now applied for a "Sharing Heritage" grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which, if awarded, will provide funding for the final part of this project which is planned to include the following;

Scale drawing of the Grindon Medieval Coped Grave Cover (courtesy of Peter Ryder)

a) The implementation of the professional cleaning of the monument and its relocation onto a well drained and suitably levelled aggregate base with a slightly raised outer stone rim. The correct levelling of the monument on its new protective based within the churchyard will be critical so as to allow the free drainage of any rain water from its upper surface.

b) The provision of suitable light cleaning tools and expert tuition allow TTHG to implement a better long term care, monitoring and management of the monuments condition. This will be implemented by volunteers from within TTHG and the local community.

c) The design and installation of a professional information board at a suitable location close to the conserved monument to allow visitors to better interpret and appreciate it.

d) A free public talk from archaeologist Peter Ryder relating to the history of the Grindon Coped Grave Slab and that of other similar sepulchral medieval monuments from north-east England.

Latest Update: On 8th February 2014 - Conservation work has now been completed and final approvals are about to be given from Church Authorities to install an information and interpretation board on-site adjacent to the monument. As part of the close out to this project a mini-exhibition coupled with a free public talk on the subject of medieval funerary monuments in North East England will be presented by Peter Ryder in Grindon Parish Hall (Thorpe Thewles) at 7:30pm on Friday 6th June 2014.


North East Archaeologist & Medieval Sepulchral Monuments Expert Peter Ryder Adds his backing & Support to TTHG's Conservation Project - Here pictured in 2012 along side the Grindon Medieval Coped Grave Cover Prior to its conservation and restoration.


TTHG and local volunteers engaged in the professional restoration of the Grindon Medieval Coped Grave Cover in 2013 under the direction of professional conservator Nigel Copsey.

Anyone interested in participating in this exciting project or who may be able to provide us with any old pictures, film clips or stories relating to areas in and around Grindon Parish should contact the group via one of the means listed below;

By e-mail:

By telephone: (01740) 630014

By letter: TTHG War Time Memories & Monuments Project; c/o 2 Mill Terrace, Thorpe Thewles. Stockton-on-Tees. TS21 3JS.

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