A year ago today, it was a grey bank holiday Monday morning, I forced my Dad to get up early, and we went to Morley Cemetery. Armed with a photo from Find A Grave, we had one goal in mind: find the grave of our Dad, and Grandad, Richard Hall.

The Hall Family at Grandad Richard’s Wedding on 2 Feb 1969, from left to right: John E. Hall (1942 – 2001), Edith A. Whitaker Hall (1911 – 1998), Percy Hall (1908 – 1976), Richard Hall (1944 – 1982).

Richard died when my dad was only nine years old, and he was never aware of any burial or cremation details. Therefore, it was pretty surprising when I first started researching to find his Find A Grave memorial as a hint on Ancestry. A national lockdown was imposed just over two weeks after I started researching, so any plans to visit the grave were put on pause quickly.

When we got to the cemetery, it seemed like an almost impossible task. We only had the photo above to help us figure out where he was buried. However, the photo gave us a few clues:

  • Some sort of plant was growing behind and around the grave
  • The grave behind my Grandad’s was an orangey red colour
  • My Grandad’s grave was grey

That might not seem like a lot, but it was enough to employ some sort of a strategy to search the cemetery. We looked at the more modern section first before progressing into the older sections of the cemetery, but it seemed like the search was hopeless until we decided to retrace our steps.

Although not the largest cemetery, it was still a challenge to search through.

By chance, I saw an orangey-red headstone with a grey headstone in front of it. As I quickly moved towards the headstone, I saw the plant and then the inscription. I was stood in front of my paternal Grandad, Richard Hall.

The image of Richard’s headstone kindly uploaded by Jill S. onto Find A Grave in November 2017.

I had never really visited any late family member’s grave before and as my Grandad was a mysterious figure to me at that point, so in many ways, it was quite a weird moment for me. For me, at least, it shed cemeteries in a different light; they were no longer places of just sadness or fear, but places where people have been put to rest.

This isn’t the longest or most shocking tale, but I think there are some messages in it that are worthwhile sharing. Always check to research a cemetery before you go searching and make sure you contact as many people as possible that can help you find a grave. Most importantly, make sure you have plenty of time and a plan. Don’t just wing it like I did as, after all, it was just by luck and the help of Find A Grave that found my Grandad Richard Hall on that grey bank holiday Monday morning.

May 25th 2020 compared to May 25th 2021