The ‘Church Micro’ – http://www.15ddv.me.uk/geo/cm/ – is a staple Geocaching hide here in the UK and commands a big following, indeed my status currently shows I have found 67 Church Micro geocaches (as of 22/11/14) and they are a super way to learn a little more about the historical architecture of these great (and sometimes not so great) buildings and the people that lived and worked around them.
The caches themselves are generally not hidden in the Church Grounds (see footer), unless permission has been expressly given but they will require you to take a meander around the graveyards collecting clues to convert to the final coordinates. Generally information from the building itself will be used (number of windows, sign above the door etc) or from Graves themselves and that’s what leads me onto this post.
Church Micro 6363.. Rotherwick (interestingly the church has no name) is a straightforward multi-cache which requires finding a grave, working some co-ordinates and then taking a walk to claim your prize. When I attended the grave one cold November morning, I found the anniversary of the death of the interned was a couple of days passed. Fresh flowers adorned the grave and it was clearly much cared for and frequently visited. A closer inspection showed me that the deceased passed 18 years ago. I tided the grave a little as normal and sat nearby and worked out the co-ordinates before crossing the field behind and finding the cache. On my return there was a gentleman at the grave who turned out to be the persons father, I skirted around the church yard and headed to my car.
Feeling uneasy about my near encounter (how would I explain that I was using his daughter grave to play a game?) I set about finding out about the person who’s details (including the date of birth and death) I had just used, using Google.
I will not go into too much detail but I can say that the person who is being used as part of the game we all love, appears to have been brutally murdered in front of their young son by her husband. Let that sink in. I felt uneasy about this and contacted the CO (cache owner) to make sure that they were aware of the history, they were and posted a note to the cache page but did not suggest changing the source of the information required. I decided at this point to not log the cache, out of respect the family that clearly are still local and dealing with the tragedy.
So, going forward I will check each Church Micro I do. I do not wish to stop doing them altogether but I will not log any caches that use what I would term ‘recent’ burials. 100 years past should do nicely. I would implore all future Church Micro owners to complete due diligence on the information you are using so that we can avoid situations like this one.
footer – An exception to this that I know of is Holy Trinity Church, Halstead where the Geocache is hidden in the Church itself.