FRESH calls have been made to conduct a complete geophysical survey at a Headington church in order to check for unmarked graves as an expansion project prepares to get underway.

Plans for an extension at Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry, Oxford, which houses the grave of writer CS Lewis, were approved in September to cries of 'shame on you' from local residents.

The extension, which will see a new disabled toilet, crèche and kitchenette, faced backlash from parishioners, who said it was both disrespectful and unnecessary.

Calls were made at the time to complete a survey to check for any unmarked graves that could be disturbed by the project but the church said it would not be carrying one out.

Now, the chairman of the Holy Trinity Preservation Group, Jennifer Carpenter is urging the church to think again and to scour the land for unmarked burial sites before it completes the extension.

She said: "While we would prefer the church to remain without an extension on that side, because of the interference with graves but also for aesthetic reasons, I could live with the respectful removal of the bodies and their reburial elsewhere.

"This is what occurred at the Bedlam Hospital site and what is proposed for the graveyards affected by the construction of HS2.

"Holy Trinity is out of step with modern thinking when it proposes to build over the remains. We have been told that to move them requires Home Office permission which would not be easily granted."

The extension site directly affects one grave, that of Cyril Frederick Coppock who was buried in 1975 and was an ex-serviceman in the First World War, along with his wife Florence buried in 1980 a domestic servant.

Ms Carpenter added: "They were honest workers. Is their grave, and possibly those of many more who lie in now unmarked graves, really to be treated with a disdain that would not be accorded to that of C.S. Lewis or Robert Doyne? The latter grave is being very carefully avoided.

"We also feel for those who have graves adjoining the proposed building site. We are assured that every effort will be made to ensure that they are treated with respect by the builders, the extension will be built from inside the church and no machinery will be used. We do not think this is feasible."

She added that the churches view that there are no graves of any significance was wrong.

Vicar the Rev Tim Stead previously said that the method used for digging the foundations of the project; called 'micro piling,' would not be invasive and would have a minimal impact on any nearby graves.

He added: "We are absolutely committed to the dignity of all these graves in the churchyard."