As part of the Friends of St Peter’s project to transform Rectory Lane Cemetery, we are inviting people to Adopt a Grave.
Taking part involves looking after a selected grave or a small area of graves – weeding, planting out a ‘mini garden’, perhaps a few minor repairs. We ask you to spare 2 or 3 hours a month at a time convenient to you. Full guidance and encouragement given!
Volunteers and groups who are already helping in this way get tremendous satisfaction from their work. Tending a grave is a great way to get out in the open air and enjoy this tranquil space, and to conserve our beautiful local heritage. There are 1,200 graves with kerbs or headstones in the Cemetery which need your tender loving care!
Why Adopt a Grave?
There are many reasons for adopting a grave, for example:
- It is a grave of a relative or one of your ancestors
- It commemorates a child – there are at least 30 of these of these in the cemetery, all of which have been neglected for many years
- It is the burial place of a notable resident of Berkhamsted – a genealogical study may reveal interesting and useful information
- It is an outstanding but neglected memorial
- You just love the idea of giving something back to Berkhamsted.
Whatever your interest, we can help you locate a suitable grave.
If you think you might like to help with this important activity, please contact our Community Engagement Officer:
Or pop along to the Cemetery between 2 and 4 o’clock tomorrow (Sunday 13th May) when we can show you some of the graves which are a priority for adoption. Alternatively, come along to one of our regular work parties, which are usually on the first Sunday in the month (check our website calendar for details) to meet other volunteers who are helping on the Project.
Guidelines for adopting a grave
- Technically, graves are the responsibility of the families of those buried there, so we do need to check that no living relatives have expressed an interest in looking after or restoring the grave.
- Before commencing any work, please liaise with Kate Campbell, the Community Engagement Officer. Together, we can agree:
- The location of the grave(s) you wish to adopt
- A plan for restoring the specific memorial
- We aim to enhance the natural beauty of the place and encourage a diversity of natural habitat.
- Some graves with kerbstones have been planted in the past. There is scope to bring these ‘mini-gardens’ back into use, contributing to the visual and ecological richness of the Cemetery.
- Alternatively, some kerbed graves were intended to have artificial surfacing such as crazy paving or gravel/chippings so simply need weeding and tidying up. The crazy paving may need repairing in some instances. The Diocesan Graveyard Regulations do not allow coloured chippings, so the Project will be using gravel as the replacement cover material.
- Some graves have free-standing or integral urns, vases or flower holders which would benefit from having cut flowers regularly replaced, like this one for Doris Draper, aged 8.
- A survey has identified that the gravestones support nearly 50 different kinds of lichen – so cleaning a monument may damage the delicate ecosystem of the Cemetery. You will notice that some selected memorials are being cleaned as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund project, but this work employs professional cleaning equipment and operators.
- Some graves have anthills – these again are vulnerable but valuable parts of the ecosystem so should not be disturbed.
- We want everyone to enjoy their work with us in safety so please:
- Always wear gloves and working boots
- Notify Kate or someone if you are planning to be on site alone
- Be aware of trip hazards, such as kerbstones, headstones and memorials, anthills, tree stumps and thick clumps of grass
- Watch out for graves and memorials that have sunk or may not be stable
- Avoid berries, fungi and other plants which may be poisonous.
Visitors to the Cemetery will be intrigued in what you are doing – if they want to know more about the Project or how to get involved please ask them to contact Kate.