Museum workers only here for the bier

Volunteers Callum Axtell, left, and David Rushton restoring the funeral bier at Ripon Workshouse Museum. Picture ' Gary Longbottom (GL1005/37b)
Volunteers Callum Axtell, left, and David Rushton restoring the funeral bier at Ripon Workshouse Museum. Picture ' Gary Longbottom (GL1005/37b)

A funeral bier upon which pauper corpses were conveyed to burial grounds is being restored by the Workhouse Museum in Ripon.

Museum volunteer Callum Axtell is restoring the bier under the guidance of a maintenance specialist, who is using the opportunity to pass on his knowledge of traditional methods and skills to the next generation.

The bier, which was used to convey pauper corpses to the burial grounds of their home parishes, was given to Ripon Museums by Newby Hall Estates, which had stored it for the Skelton parish. Any dead pauper from Skelton would have been wheeled on the bier from Ripon Workhouse back to Skelton-on-Ure.

Records from the time show that native Ripon paupers were interred in the cathedral burial ground but without headstones.

The restored funeral bier will be added to the collection at Ripon Workhouse Museum in Ripon.

Wendy Hunwick Brown, from Ripon Museums, said: “We are trying to discover more about the untold stories of paupers who died in the workhouse, people who were left with nothing and with sadly no family to mourn them.”