The Rectory Lane Cemetery Project is the flagship project of the Friends of St Peter’s. We are working to transform Berkhamsted’s once-neglected cemetery into a community space and to conserve our heritage for future generations.
Rectory Lane Cemetery is a ‘detached’ cemetery of St Peter’s Church. It was founded in 1842 when St Peter’s churchyard ran out of space for new burials. Eventually, Rectory Lane Cemetery also ran out of space, and burials ended here in 1976. This 3-acre site proved difficult for the congregation of St Peter’s to look after and the cemetery became very neglected, overgrown with weeds, saplings sprouting out of historic monuments, and a magnet for antisocial behaviour and vandalism.
This forgotten piece of church land was full of beautiful Victorian monuments with many family connections in the local area. In 2014, the Friends of St Peter’s volunteers started a project to turn Rectory Lane Cemetery from a dead space into a living place.
Rectory Lane Cemetery now has its own dedicated website to tell the story of this once-forgotten burial ground.
Visit rectorylanecemetery.org.uk to discover:
- the history of the cemetery
- how Friends of St Peter’s volunteers transformed this beautiful space
- a searchable database of burials
- links to historic sites across Berkhamsted
- a wildlife guide
- news about the cemetery project
- community events in the historic cemetery grounds
- educational activities for children
…and much more.
The website is perfect for researching your family history, or for anyone who just wants to discover more about Berkhamsted’s rich history.
When we started
The Cemetery Project
Involving the Community
We began fundraising from grants, donations and through community schemes run by Waitrose and Tesco.
Special community initiatives captured the imagination of local people and raised awareness of our project:
- Restoration of the Seat of Remembrance with its lovely sculpted dogs
- A design competition to create new cemetery seating
Repairing the Fabric
- Local architects helped to draw up plans to improve the paths and landscaping,
- Historic features including, memorials, walls, pillars, gates and buildings are being repaired
- We have engaged an expert monument conservator to advise us on repairing selected monuments in the Cemetery.
- Damaged headstones are being lovingly restored by an apprentice stonemason
- We are resurfacing paths to improve accessibility for everyone
New Cemetery Features
To enhance the cemetery for the whole community, the project is creating:
- A new Garden of Remembrance
- A small 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 cemetery is an ecologically significant area, and supports many species of rare lichen and wildlife. We even have a cemetery beehive, which produces an annual batch of delicious local honey! We continue to enhance the cemetery ecology by:
- Improving habitats for birds, insects, bats and animals
- Introducing a more sensitive mowing rotation