The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

The Friends of St Peter's Berkhamsted

Rectory Lane Cemetery is a historic ‘detached’ church cemetery, founded in 1842, and it is one of the precious few green spaces in Berkhamsted. The Rectory Lane Cemetery Project was established in 2014 to celebrate the historical connections with Berkhamsted through families interred in the Cemetery.

We have now begun an exciting three-year project to transform the Cemetery, creating a new community space with an enhanced wildlife domain and restored heritage features. The friends have secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund for this scheme, enabling us to restore a neglected area and conserve our heritage for future generations.

When we started

A decaying overgrown grave in 2013

Until recently, 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
  • 1000 damaged and decaying Memorials
  • Rusting gates and gatepiers
  • A crumbling Memorial Arch
  • Unattractive seating
  • Over 200 neglected Trees

What we have achieved

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

Since our volunteers began in 2014, we have:

  • 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)
  • Begun the “adopt a grave” scheme for families and floral artists
  • Enhanced the site’s ecology, improving habitats for birds, insects and animals and introducing a more sensitive mowing rotation
  • Installed a beehive
  • Run very popular Heritage Open Days events

Our open days have attracted hundreds of new visitors

To make all this possible we have raised funds from grants, donations and through community schemes run by Waitrose and Tesco. Now the Friends of St Peter’s have secured £907,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund, which means we can do even more.

What we have planned

The planned Garden of Remembrance

To enhance the Cemetery for the whole community, we will be creating:

  • Repair and restoration of historic features including, memorials, walls, pillars, gates and buildings
  • Welcoming entrances
  • New surfaced paths and improved accessibility
  • A Garden of Remembrance
  • A events area for performances and activities such as yoga
  • Better quality features such as newly designed seating, sculptures and bins
  • Interpretation to help people enjoy their visits, whether for leisure or to trace relatives

 

The restored Rectory Lane gateway & signage

An expert monument conservator has also been engaged to advise us on repairing selected monuments in the Cemetery.

Schools, students and researchers will be able to come to the cemetery for historical or environmental studies.

Local residents will also have opportunities to learn practical skills through volunteering and participating in conservation work, promoting health and wellbeing in an inspirational, accessible space.

Find out more about these plans

Get involved