OldCiren - Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK
Whenever I’m heading up to Chesterton, I often take a little while out to visit the Cemetery. Its a tranquil part of town which seems to be rapidly becoming engulfed by office buildings and houses. When it was built in 1871, it was rural; there being no sign of the housing estate that exists today (built in 1938). Chesterton cemetery has expanded significantly over the years as more and more Cirencestrians “ Cross over the Churn” to rest in peace under the well mown grass.
When opened in 1872 the Keeper llived in the Neo-Gothic Lodge at the entrance. Gothic style architecture was popular at the time and added gravitas to sombre situations. it was only two years previous that the Houses of Parliament had reached completion in this particular style. An job advert in an 1871 copy of the Standard offered £1 a week and free rent for the Keeper who was expected to devote 100% of his time to the Cemetery to dig graves, tend gardens and lock the gates. He was also required to keep a register of burials and it was essential he could read and write. The Lodge is still there although I believe it has been sold as a private house. Two Neo-Gothic chapels remain, one of which was used at one time for inquests and is unconsecrated as is the adjoining Western part of the cemetery. Back then the cost to be buried varied according to the rateable value of the house the deceased lived in: 6 shillings being the lowest and 14 shillings for a house rated at over £15. Extras were available or as we call them today “upgrades". To have a grave deeper than the standard 7 feet would cost an extra 5 shillings a foot and for those worried about grave robbers, it was possible to purchase a brick lined grave for £3.10 shillings (£288 in todays money.)