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Page last updated at 10:21 GMT, Monday, 2 August 2010 11:21 UK
Moonies burial site to go ahead
By Mark Jones
BBC Wiltshire

Burial site
Nearly 300 burial plots will be created at the site.

A quiet, leafy village in North Wiltshire is to be the setting for an international church's burial site in a grassy field.

The Unification or Moonies religion has had links with Stanton Fitzwarren near Swindon since the 1970s.

Although no longer its UK centre, a large chunk of farmland is still owned by the church.

The consecrated ground will be turned into a memorial woodland for 273 burial plots.

Swindon Borough Council gave the approval for the site with a number of conditions including provision for parking, headstones to be laid flat and a limit of five burials a year.

Also any other villager can be buried there.

Nancy Jubb, from the Unification church, said: "It's beautiful English countryside, very much rooted in English history, anyone who comes down here can feel its heritage as well as seeing the beauty."

This particular field, which is mainly secluded - in fact it can only be seen in part from a couple of sites around the village, was chosen because the church's leader the Reverend Sun Myung Moon blessed the ground when the farm was given to the movement in 1972.

Nancy said: "That's why this place is so special - it's blessed by the Reverend Moon but is also so peaceful."

Local farmer Henry Masters gave the whole 500 acres of his farm over to the church when he and his wife decided to follow this faith.

Henry said: "I felt if the Reverend Moon was who he said he was then I wanted to give everything - the farm had been in my family for 400 years - it had to be all or nothing, so I gave everything.

Henry and Avril Masters
Henry and Avril Masters gave up their farm to the church.

"Our daughter came home one weekend and said she had joined this church, we were interested and read about it and found this was for us."

Both Henry and his wife Avril left the Christian church in the village and joined the Moonies, and have been members ever since.

There have been concerns from some Stanton Fitzwarren residents that the new burial site will attract extra traffic, in what is already a busy village. There are also concerns that the number of burials might have to exceed the set limit of five.

But Henry has countered those arguments: "There will be extra parking created on the farm and we are a small organisation of only 300 families in the whole of the UK, most of those are under 50 years old, so there won't be many burials in the foreseeable future."

One other concern has been raised by Parish Council Chairman Tom Charnock: "As anyone from the village can be buried there some are worried that if the church ever sells the land they won't be able to visit their loved ones."

But Henry Masters said: "If they ever do sell up I know they (the church) will ensure right of access."

Tom said: "There has been no objections to the religion being here but the concerns have been centred around access issues and traffic, but now that seems to be sorted I think most people will be happy."

"The site could also help the village as there is only one burial plots left in the traditional graveyard of St Leonard C of E church."

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