Writer Gentleman Jack takes issue with Lister’s burial site at Halifax Minster

The author of the BBC1 drama series Mr Jack called on the Church to help find the final resting place of its eponymous hero.

Sally Wainwright, who portrayed the life and loves of Anne Lister, the 19th-century Yorkshire adventurer-diarist dubbed ‘the first modern lesbian’, has won worldwide acclaim. But Lister’s grave in Halifax Minster has been lost, and the writer would like it to be restored so that one day people can lay flowers there, “knowing that we lay them as close to his remains as possible. mortal”.

Lister was a faithful devotee of St John’s Parish Church, now the cathedral, and was buried there in 1840; but the tomb was destroyed during a renovation in the 1870s. It was not until 2000 that fragments of the ledger stone were unearthed and have since been put on display in the cathedral.

Ms Wainwright said: ‘The official church line is that she is buried in the family vault, but a lot of scholarly opinion now thinks she is buried elsewhere in the church. She has become a world famous writer, and I think the church should respect that and do everything possible to find her place of origin and restore it, but there seems to be a reluctance. I don’t know if it’s because she was gay.

“Anne Lister is now increasingly seen as a great literary figure. Halifax has its own Shakespeare, its own Brontes. It’s time we stopped treating her like a dirty secret and instead took pride in the fact that she’s probably the most famous girl in Halifax. To continue to keep her grave shrouded in mystery is to be complicit in the belief that people like Anne Lister should be erased from history, and I don’t think that’s good for the Church.

The vicar of Halifax Cathedral, Canon Hilary Barber, pointed out that the cathedral had supported a recent Anne Lister birthday festival, organizing events, pilgrimages, guided tours and selling books and souvenirs. He also held a memorial service for his senior year. “None of this strikes me as the minister reluctant to engage on this,” he said. “The cathedral welcomes people from all walks of life, without distinction of gender or sexuality, and has done so for more than 900 years of Benedictine spirituality.

AlamyAnne Lister’s broken memorial stone at Halifax Minster

“Many people in the LGBQI+ community are members of the congregational community, and we spent the Lenten season taking the short course offered by Inclusive Church. Any suggestion that the minister is homophobic is baseless and baseless.

The minister had sought the advice of national church experts, through the Church Buildings Council, to locate the grave. “On the balance of probabilities, we believe she is in the family vault on the south side of the cathedral, where a space would have been reserved for her. However, we are aware that because his gravestone was found in a different location, the location is disputed.