The Historical Wisbech General Cemetery

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No chance of exploring any churches on Sunday, too much gardening to be done.  But on a visit to the supermarket I remember the old cemetery which is next door…….shopping done, camera in hand (camera goes everywhere, even to the shops) and off to explore.

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Wisbech General Cemetery, also called Leverington Road Cemetery was laid out in 1835 as a cemetery for non-conformists.  It was designed as a garden cemetery, with gravel pathways, lawns and trees, with flowering shrubs following the style of the new cemeteries in London and other major cities.

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This photo is taken from details on site, just to give you an idea of what it looked like and note the large urn in the centre of the picture and then look at the following photos.

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I think that this is the urn, its roughly in the same place and there is nothing else that resembles it.

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The area of land is about three acres and was bought by Joshua Bland, a prominent non-conformist, for £950.  The first burial, in spring 1836, was of Robert, the infant son of William and Ann Catliff.

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In 1841 the Wisbech General Cemetary company was formed.  The sale of shares raised funds which allowed for improvements.  A wall with railings and gates extended the full length of the frontage along Leverington Road as can be seen in the lithograph by PJ Hunter drawn on the spot in 1843.  There was no chapel at this time.  The chapel was built in 1848 when a loan was raised.  Built in classic Doric (Greek) style, it enabled funeral services to be conducted under shelter.

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Over the coming years the cemetery continued to be a success, although the company was often in debt.  By the end of 1855 there had been 1100 burials and the cemetery was reported to be well maintained and organised.  By 1866 the number had reached 3810.  In total an astonishing 6571 people were buried in this small area of cemetery, most of them in multiple graves and many with no headstones.

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The decline of the cemetery started slowly beginning in 1881 when a new burial ground was opened.  The numbers of burials began to fall and and later the services of groundsman could not be met.  The pathways deteriorated and gravestones became over grown and the cemetery finally closed in 1972.

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The area is now a Pocket Park and ‘The Friends of Wisbech General Cemetery’ a small group of volunteers help look after the site in conjunction with The Fenland District Council, owners of the site, to maintain and enhance the woodland wildlife habitat and historic cemetery.

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It is an amazing place and it is a shame that there is not enough money just to control the weeds a bit more, not too much, but just a little to bring back a little of the original garden arrangement.  Even so it is still a wonderful place to explore.

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14 comments

  1. Wonderful photos as always.
    I would love to take a walk around there some day, looks very atmospheric.
    It’d have to be in the daylight though, think it’d be a bit too spooky for me at night 😉

    1. LOL to tell you the truth, its spooky in the day especially in the middle, what is quite strange its right next door to a big Asda store, but there is no noise, its so quiet. Its a very photogenic place and I really wanted to get the feel of it…….so I am really pleased that you think it looks atmospheric, thank you so much 🙂

    1. It is our local town next door to a supermarket we use, you can see it from the car park. It is tucked behind a house and timber yard but there is a footpath to it and now it is called a pocket park…..which is a small area in a town or city given over to wild life, but you can also visit it. It does get cut back once a year by volunteers, there is no money to pay someone regularly to look after it 🙂

  2. I walked through this place today after dropping the wife at Asda I decided to go for a walk, I followed a footpath through a grass playing field and found the gated entrance to this cemetery. On entering it I immediately found it strange. I followed a footpath through and it was unlike anywhere I had ever been, almost like another world. It looks like a time warp place that no one has been in for years, although there were some people there trying to clear some of the weeds. It is near a busy road and until I came out the other end I didn’t hear a sound.I have been going to Wisbech all my life and I never knew it existed. Well worth a look if you are interested in strange places.

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