Audlem Cemetery History

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Ed: Our village is fortunate in having such a well maintained place of rest in an excellent location. Here Ralph Warburton tells us something of the Cemetery's history

AUDLEM CEMETERY

1872 BURIAL BOARD formed- catering for the ecclesiastical area of the St James Church as decreed by Chester Diocese.

1873 JANUARY 21ST BORROWED £2000 ( in today's money that is about £160,000) — at interest rate of 5% -over 30 instalments — HP!!
February 4th — Board buys 2 acres from the estate of John Knight Armstrong . for £600 ( £48,000)

1874 The Committee Builds the Chapels at a cost of £170,000 in today's money.
The Architect was Thomas Bower — Bower Eddlestones of Nantwich!
The Chapels- in Victorian Gothic style — are listed buildings. With fine Minton tiled floors and unique timber ceilings. The traditional
Gargoyle is there on the central roof area, along with a fine and unique glazed carved cameo of Christ

16th September . Cemetery opens

First burial was 4th December 1874 — an independent widow named Hannah Sandells aged 66 in grave number 152!
Why in the middle of the area I do not understand, for at that time it would have been an open field.
An Ann Evans bought the grave for 16 shillings — about £300 today
Cost of the burial was £1.7.6d . Ann Evans was then buried there in 1875

1894 Burial Board becomes the Joint Burial Board .

1921/22 Need for more land recognised.

1923 A Ministry of health enquiry was held in the Public Hall to determine the need for the extension of the cemetery. This was voted as yes.

1924 Joint Burial Board bought 3 acres and 3 perches. A Perch is an old measure equal to 30 sq yds (160 sq perches to an acre) from a certain Mr William Smith .
Richard Mathews was the architect .

Within the older area, we have some 500 old C of E graves and on the right hand side a further 450 purchased graves for the non C of E residents- including of course the paupers graves — all of whom were then buried in un-consecrated land!

More on the paupers graves later

We have 7 War Graves , purchased by the Imperial War Graves Commission. I say purchased but no fees were levied for these war graves. Interred within the War graves are Privates, a gunner , a driver and a rifleman . Ranging in age from 19 to 41. All died between 1917 and 1920 . Today every other year , the War Grave Commission come here to check the graves and clean the headstones and we are paid a yearly fee of £56 to ensure full maintenance.

Down towards the bottom- on the right of the first path , we have the war grave of a German Count, Robert Von Trutzschler-Falkenstein , 1940 . Aged 64 years. Two German prisoners of war were initially buried here after they died, but were then subsequently disinterred on the orders of The Home Office and reburied in the German War Graves Cemetery at Cannock Chase.

In those days in the late 19th century and early 20th , those who could not afford a funeral and burial were interred "on the parish" with the costs being born by the local council. These burials of paupers were in common graves, with at times having 7 persons in the same plot. Buried and just wrapped in a sheet.
As I stated earlier, we had both consecrated areas and non consecrated . A throw back to the power of the Church of England.

In 1998/9, Bill Seville, Minister of the Methodist Church, was approached and asked that he bless all of the cemetery and so banish the unconsecrated element .

When I took on the task of running the cemetery in late 2000 — following the sudden and untimely death of my wife Joan — replacing Maureen Mayne , I did research into the area down at the bottom of the unconsecrated side of the cemetery — to the right of the first path . At that time it was a heap of waste soil with a thriving "city" of rabbit burrows and tangled briars. I had all of this removed and the ground made good as part of the lawn surface we have all over. In this "forgotten area" were many of the pauper's graves. As listed in the registers. But forgotten — with not a mark as to their passing.

I am delighted to say that when I sought permission to commission a memorial to about 80 such persons — ranging from just hours old — from the now Audlem Burial Committee , I was given permission to proceed. This block of finest granite — hewn from the mountains of Madras ( Now known as Chennai) in eastern India-(where the best granite now is sourced) — is now in place in about the area of the paupers burial plots- down the first path and bearing their names and dates and ages . A marker for them as having existed.

Overall we have aimed for a lawn effect with the old style graves with curbs being lifted and not replaced as and when we are able.

Overall we have some 2500 graves — some taken and some booked in advance. There are those who bought their plots many years ago at the then price ruling and this action lasts forever. Today's fees are available from myself.

We serve the parishes of Audlem, Hankelow, Buerton, Newhall , Lightwood Green and Dodcott cum Wilkesley.
The Committee is made up of representatives of all the listed parishes.

It is of interest to note the fine trees that adorn the front lawns of the cemetery. The truly magnificent Lebanese Cedar was planted around 1750 — a time of Capability Brown when the planting of such specimen trees was desired so much by stately homes. Also the grand Lime tree by the tool shed was planted in about 1810 — when King George was ruling Great Britain.

Lots of history and peace here. A fine place to have a walk round. And very good for the wildlife as they are in the main undisturbed.
If you wish any help in any way do contact me .

My contact details are
07813 820157 rjw@notrubraw.com