Why was the Project launched?
By the 1970s, having long ceased to be Berkhamsted’s main burial ground, Rectory Lane Cemetery had become neglected – overgrown with historic monuments damaged by invasive weeds and saplings. In 2013 the Friends of St Peter’s Great Berkhamsted was founded as a registered charity with the aim of “the preservation, repair, maintenance, restoration, improvement and ornamentation of the fabric of the Parish Church of Great Berkhamsted and of the churchyards belonging to it.”
Rectory Lane Cemetery offered great potential as a community green space and heritage asset – it could be revitalised to enhance Berkhamsted’s amenities. In 2014 the Friends launched the Rectory Lane Cemetery Project to restore it, and a team of volunteers set about clearing overgrown weeds and recording the burials.
After much hard work, the Friends secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund to carry out a major three-year programme to transform Rectory Lane Cemetery from ‘a dead space to a living place’.
Included in the funding were two part-time posts – that of Project Manager and Community Engagement Officer.