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Billing Road Cemetery

19 June 2007

JD & I went for an evening walk around the block last night (yes, we are turning in to my parents!!) and walked past Billing Road Cemetery. We never walked through the gates but this seemed the perfect summer evening to have a look. It is a strange place. More like a grass pitch with some graves scattered around than a 'proper' cemetery. There is no order to things, the graves all seem quite old.

I have no idea why this place is no longer in use. When looking at the Northamptonshire County website, it says the place is restricted, meaning not everyone can get a grave there. But why? What is the history of the place? Why is it not a proper cemetery with rows of graves? Why did burials stop there after a while? Most graves date from 1830 - 1930 with a few exceptions up to as recent as 1979. I assume these were family graves where people had the rights to be added to a family tomb.
Caroline Chisholm, the famous social reformer who fought for Aborigine's rights in Sydney, was buried there in 1877.

Some more well known people are buried there but I could not find any info as to the strange feel of the place. As we were leaving, I suddenly noticed something wonderfully philosophical. Almost all graves had trees growing from them. Like death sustaining life. The whole place did not have that 'creepy' feeling you normally get from an old burial ground. Instead it left me with a whole bunch of questions. In an era of shortage of burial space, why is Billing Road Cemetery not used to its full potential? Did people object? Did something happen?


Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

Anonymous said...

Heb je een portugees woordenboek?Ria

nancy said...

O, ik dacht dat het Spaans was Ria. Ik heb twee jaar Spaans gehad en nog herken ik het niet.... Zucht:O(

Anonymous said...

Billing Road Cemetery opened in 1847. Many of the graves were unpurchased as many families could not afford to purchase them. this is why there are very few memorials.
Also the General Cemetery Corporation owned the cemetery, but they went bankrupt around 1940s,this is when the decision that Northampton Borough Council would be maintaining the cemetery. When Northampton Borough Council took over the running of the cemetery it was in a poor state with many memorials broken or vandalised. The decision was taken to contact the deedholder for the graves, if their memorial was broken or needed repairing they had a set period to get the work done, or the memorial was removed.
you can contact the council on 01604 838903

Anonymous said...

It was good to see this site as I spent my childhood in The Lodge in East Street. I must advise that the Cemetery as you said was a private cemetery and prior to the Company going Bust in the 50's, (my Dad didn't start there until 1947) when I recall Mr Brown(known as Topper) was the Secretary and Mr Allsopp was The Director. my Dad was The Superintendent. I have so many memories of those 19 acres. The Office which still stands on the Billing Road end had a strong room. In there the ledgers were kept. Huge,heavy, black leather bound records of every event in the grounds. Each entry beautifully written in black ink. The memory of that smell is still with me. It was only when the Council took over that they removed lots of the headstones, if they were dangerous. I was surprised that there wasn't a photo of The White Horse memorial to the Fossett Circus family. It was close to The Chapel near Lutterworth Road displaying a tear on its cheek. When my Dad took over there were no new graves to purchase as the Cemetery was full. He was only able to do re-openings. I remember The BBC coming to visit when Alan Whicker interviewed my Dad and Councillor Cockrell for a Black and White News show called Nationwide. My Dad had to go up the Road to Mrs Bolshaws (she was the florist) to watch the programme as we didn't have a TV. My Mum ran the watering cans and hired them at 2p each. The Monumental Mason ran his business from Bouverie Street. In 1963 when he could no longer dig graves through Arthritis in his hip we left the Cem and went to live in Folkestone where he continued with the Wargraves Commission contract and maintained the graves in a Cemetery in Dover.

Brian said...

Brilliant summery thank you very much for the info. Seems strange how only certain people were buried there as my sister aged 12 was buried there in 1955 and we lived in Kingsthorpe.

Bev said...

I have lived in Northampton since 1947 and have never been into the cemetery until today, walking with my grandchildren......indeed a strange and lovely place, very unkempt but with a serene and peaceful atmosphere. Interesting to read about its history.....thank you.

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