Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

What has been achieved?

We are more than two years into the three year programme and a great deal has been accomplished, both in terms of improving the fabric of the Cemetery and in terms of community engagement.

However, our activity programme has had to cease for the moment due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Our landscaping programme was delayed by a month for the same reason but has now recommenced.

We look forward to welcoming visitors back into the Cemetery to see the transformation.

When we started

A decaying overgrown grave in 2013

When we started, the Cemetery was an overgrown, unloved area which had:

  • 3 acres of neglected scrub
  • A boarded-up Sexton’s Hut
  • 540 metres of failing boundary walls
  • 1,000 damaged and decaying Memorials
  • Rusting gates and leaning gate piers
  • A crumbling Memorial Arch
  • Unattractive seating
  • Over 200 neglected trees
 

Initial work

A conservation team lifting the restored Seat of Remembrance into place in 2016

Between 2014 and September 2017 we:

  • Held regular Sunday work parties
  • Removed destructive trees and saplings
  • Recorded and cleaned gravestones and monuments
  • Restored the Seat of Remembrance (with its lovely sculpted dogs)
  • Began the “adopt a grave” scheme
  • Initiated community consultations
  • Held a seating design competition
  • Ran Heritage Open Days events which attracted hundreds of new visitors
  • Conducted guided tours
 
Our open days have attracted hundreds of new visitors
  • Published trail booklets to highlight the history of the site, the lives of some of those buried there and the symbolism of the graves
  • Consulted with monumental conservation experts with regard to the state of all the monuments
  • Conducted surveys of the trees, flora and fauna on the site
  • Enhanced the site’s ecology, improving habitats for birds, insects and animals and introducing a more sensitive mowing rotation
  • Installed a beehive

This was made possible through the work of our volunteers and supported through grants, donations, Waitrose and Tesco community schemes and initial funding from the Heritage Lottery and Big Lottery Funds.

 

Transforming the Cemetery

Repairing the leaning gate piers

The award of the main Delivery Grant of £907,600 in September 2017 is funding an ambitious three-year programme of conservation, landscaping and community engagement:

  • Monument conservation specialists have reinstated 19 key memorials, rebuilt and strengthened the walls, straightened and repaired the leaning Memorial Arch and gate piers, and restored the iron gates and railings
 
We are working with monument conservation specialists to restore the cemetery
  • Our landscape architect has designed a number of improvements which are being created by a professional landscaping team: a contemporary Garden of Remembrance; welcoming entrances; accessible paths and steps; an events area for performances and group activities; steps and handrails to the upper cemetery

 

 
The Read in Peace seat
  • Better quality features such as newly designed seating and sculptures are being installed and improvements being made to infrastructure such as disabled parking, cycle racks, bins and a facility for volunteers as well as bringing electricity and water on to the site
 
Visitors can search for burials on a cemetery map
  • Interpretation is being developed to help people enjoy their visits, whether for leisure or to trace relatives, including a searchable map and database of burials and telling the story of the Cemetery in the refurbished Sexton’s Hut
 
  • Our Community Engagement Officer and volunteer team are delivering an ambitious programme of events, from storytelling, theatre and guided tours in role to bee information sessions, school local history sessions and creative writing workshops.
 

For more information please contact

photo of Kate Campbell

 Kate Campbell

Community Engagement Officer
     07866 024254  
photo of James Moir

 James Moir

Project Manager
 07545 786 372