Involving the community
Right from the start, the Project has kept the local community at the heart of its work. The project is truly a community initiative, driven by volunteers from all walks of life and shaped by local opinion.
Early on, project members engaged with a wide range of people in and around Berkhamsted, seeking their views on proposals to bring the cemetery back to life and enhance it as a wildlife haven. At a special Heritage Open Day launch event in 2014 plans, drawings and maps were shared and the opinions of local residents captured through questionnaires and online surveys. We have gathered ideas and listened to feedback at monthly market stalls, and hundreds of questionnaires have been put through the letterboxes of neighbouring households. The response from interested people has been overwhelmingly positive and we have also had support and encouragement from many with relatives buried in the cemetery. Some of our early proposals changed in response to public feedback too.
As our project has gained momentum, we have worked with many community groups to enhance the experience of the cemetery:
- Visits of schools, youth groups and Scouts/Cubs have inspired young people with local history and environmental activities
- Heritage Open Days, theatre, storytelling and year-round guided tours have meant people rediscovering their local history
- Local history societies have supported the cemetery with research
- Environmental charities have provided expertise to help us to manage an enhanced wildlife domain
- Local trades have provided services, supporting the local economy and jobs
- Craft workers such as stonemasons have developed their skill through apprenticeships
- Local artists, photographers and writers have found inspiration among the Victorian monuments
- St Peter’s Parish Church fully supports our work to restore and care for a cherished piece of consecrated ground
- Hundreds of supporters, both locally and nationally, are kept informed by our monthly email bulletins and social media posts
- …and not forgetting the many individuals in Berkhamsted who volunteer at events and work parties.
Rectory Lane Cemetery supports and is supported by the Berkhamsted community – we hope you will come and join us!