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The Audlem Cemetery

31st December 2014 @ 6:06am – by Ralph Warburton
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Since my wife Joan died so suddenly in the year 2000, I have been involved with the running of the cemetery – having volunteered my services in late 2000.

I manage all aspects of the place which is widely acknowledged as the very best in all of Cheshire. We have a staff of three in addition to myself and their prime task is to maintain all the grounds and chapels to the highest level.

History facts of the Cemetery

It was opened for use in 1874, with the very first internment being that of one named Ann Saunders, aged 66, surprisingly buried in grave number 152 – which at the time was close to the middle of the left hand side of the oldest consecrated ground.

How on earth they paced out the spot with accuracy and why she was interred there is quite a mystery.

It is interesting to note at this point that the cemetery had consecrated areas for Church of England persons right up to the mid 1990s. Those not of the C of E faith were interred in non-consecrated ground until the whole area was consecrated by Bill Seville, minister of the Methodist Church. A sign of the power of the church in days gone by.

The two chapels are noted as being some of the finest examples of Victorian Gothic around, with the internal wood beamed ceilings being of a very particular design. The Rondo, as affixed to the tower of the two chapels, is of much detail and nowhere can I find any history of this icon.

A walk around the whole area is as if walking through the pages of the history of Audlem. The ages of those interred are evidence of the poor survival of children in those late Victorian/ Edwardian times and I discovered many paupers graves buried under rubble and waste piles when I delved into the registers.

Those who could not afford a funeral were buried in common graves – purchased by the Parish and interred, wrapped in a sheet.

We cleared away the paupers' area and recently were able to erect a granite block recording the passing of so many of the forgotten ones – see second photo. A quite moving and poignant memorial as you will see if you chance to walk by.

We do have eight War Graves of men who died after they returned from WW1. They are maintained by the War Graves Commission every other year. They have the distinctive headstone of a war grave.

In addition we did have two graves for German POW's but they were disinterred on the order of the Home Office and reburied in the German cemetery near Cannock.

Another fact to note is that all graves are dug – and dug by hand with much care – facing East. Apart that is for the clergy. The saying goes is that come the day of Resurrection, all can rise to face towards Jerusalem – with the Clergy rising to face their congregation!

Today we have many plots still available and I judge we can continue for the next 80/100 years.

The cost of a plot today is at present £360 for those within the boundary that we serve – and it should be noted that the cost of a plot in the 1880s was 17 shillings and 6 pence – which is about the same as the £360 today!

The whole operation is overseen by a Committee who meet quarterly to receive my reports. They represent the various parishes within the said boundary, based on the ecclesiastical measure of the past.

If anyone wishes more information on any aspect, do please contact me on 01270 812125 or 07813 820157 or rjw@notrubraw.com


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