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About the Parish

The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

The 2010 screening of this programme and the following documentary about the 19th century lady and her lesbian lovers have brought to light a connection with our village and churchyard.

Eliza Raine's grave, OsbaldwickAnne Lister’s first intense relationship was with Eliza Raine. Anne and Eliza were at school together at the Manor School, an elite boarding school for girls, in what is now King’s Manor. Anne had been sent there in1805 at the age of 14 years.

Eliza was of Anglo-Indian parentage but, following the death of their father, Eliza and her sister, Jane, had been placed under the guardianship of William Duffin, a York surgeon. Perhaps because, for different reasons, they both seemed not to conform, Anne and Eliza were put together sharing an attic dormitory at the school. Their relationship developed and by the time they left the school they had decided they wanted to be together for the rest of their lives.

The girls began to correspond but, as Anne’s circle of friends widened, Eliza soon began to realise she was not the only recipient of Anne’s attention and affection. The cooling off of their relationship had a detrimental affect on Eliza’s health and she suffered a mental decline. In 1814 she was attended by Dr Belcombe, a York doctor who specialised in the care of the mentally ill. She was declared insane and admitted to the Retreat or Quakers’ Asylum at Clifton which was publicised as being for the ’Reception and cure of persons afflicted with nervous complaints and insanity’.

Eliza Raine's grave, OsbaldwickAt some later stage she became a resident of Terrace House in Osbaldwick (numbers 59 and 57 Osbaldwick Village). This was the local asylum for ladies founded in 1821. The asylum for men was housed in Hollytree House (no. 47 Osbaldwick Village).

According to the book ‘Osbaldwick, the History of a Village’ published by Osbaldwick History Group in 1980, “The female patients lived in what is now Stanley House, Osbaldwick Village (No 57) with Mrs (Elizabeth) Toes and later Dr Ure living next door.”

Eliza Raine died there on 31st January 1860 having seemed to have spent all her adult life in an Institution.

Her body was buried in Osbaldwick churchyard across the road from her last home. Her simple gravestone was filmed as part of the documentary and visited by the presenter Sue Perkins.

Since these programmes were shown we have had enquiries and visitors expressing an interest in the sad life of Eliza Raine and wanting to view her grave. We hope these few notes will inform those who want to know a little more about how Eliza came to be buried in our churchyard.

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