Many older churches have a lych gate built over the entrance to the churchyard marking the division between consecrated and unconsecrated ground.
Originally they housed a stone slab or or timber shelf to rest the coffin upon, considering it was the place where the bearers rested before a burial.
Although these gates first appeared in medieval times, the 1549 Prayer Book required the priest to meet the corpse at the churchyard entrance, thus encouraging the provision of lych gates to shelter the corpse and the funeral party for that purpose.
Often coffins had to be carried many miles along routes known as corpse roads because not all communities had their own burial grounds.
The name derives from the Anglo Saxon word ‘lich’ – meaning corpse.
This old postcard features the lych gate at All Hallows’ Bispham.