Great Yarmouth Cemeteries
Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust is delivered a project over 2012-2014 to clear and conserve graves in the Old and New Cemeteries either side of Kitchener Road in Great Yarmouth and in St. Nicholas Churchyard, a total area of 40 acres containing over 3000 gravestones and monuments. Originally, it was planned to select fifteen monuments for conservation work but thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of the volunteers and trainees participating in this project, 75 have been conserved. The Project Co-Ordinator is Bridget Heriz-Smith.
The Trust worked in partnership with organisations such as the Prince’s Trust, The Conservation Volunteers (Great Yarmouth Green Gym) and Great Yarmouth and Waveney MIND, and with the support of the Jobcentre, Great Yarmouth Green Network, GYB Services, Ageless Opportunities, Great Yarmouth Central Library and the Great Yarmouth Mercury TeamGY promotion.
The Trust also worked with Norfolk Wildlife Trust and The Conservation Volunteers to ensure protection of habitat during clearance and to enhance future biodiversity. Great Yarmouth Naturalist Society and Great Yarmouth Bird Society are both concerned at the loss of habitat during grave clearance and the Trust is keen to work closely with local groups who have knowledge and experience that will contribute to the conservation of habitat. Peter Allard has written a report on migrating birds observed in the Cemeteries this Autumn, and this has been posted to the Friends of Great Yarmouth Cemeteries page on this website.
A new mowing regime was agreed with GYB Services for 2014. This will allow selected areas of the New and Old Cemeteries to grow as wild flower meadows, some for the benefit of spring flowering and some for summer flowering plants. Interpretation panels have been installed in these areas to explain the mowing regime and provide information about the wild flowers and the benefit of encouraging them to flourish.
The Great Yarmouth Cemeteries Project was funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, The Pilgrim Trust, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, The Broads Authority Sustainable Development Fund, TCHC (ESF Community Grant) and Great Yarmouth Minster Preservation Trust.
In-kind support was donated by Great Yarmouth Minster PCC, the Novus Centre, Great Yarmouth Community Library and above all, the many enthusiastic and committed volunteers who showed such an impressive commitment to the project, working outdoors thoughout the harshest of weather conditions!
HERITAGE ANGELS AWARD
The project was shortlisted for the Heritage Angels Award. The result was announced at the Award Ceremony on the 21st October, held in the magnificent Palace Theatre, London. Darren Barker, Project Organiser GYPT, and Bridget Heriz, Cemeteries Project Co-Ordinator, attended with three trainees, Rachel Harrison, Cathy Mijatovic and William Wallace. We did not win in our category, and congratulations to the winner, the Ivy House Public House Project. However, though we did not win, we were glad to receive very positive comments at the event and, given a budget of only £120,000, it is a great acknowledgement of what has been achieved to have been shortlisted out of 900 projects nationwide. Click here to find out more about the Heritage Angels Award, and click here to view the Gt. Yarmouth Cemeteries video on YouTube produced for the Award.
We have also received many appreciative comments locally, such as the following, kindly sent via our website by Richard Lamb: "The work you do, and the way you do it using training, is amazing - and a real credit to our wonderful town. The projects you have carried out have made a real difference to the town, not just for the built environment, but the people - lifting spirts and raising aspirations. Thank you. Please keep up the excellent work!" Thank you to Richard and everybody who has sent us such affirmative messages.
The number of people offering voluntary or in-kind support up to the beginning of October amounts to 214. 120 were involved in training, which includes the Conservation Training Programme trainees, conservation students visiting from Estonia, a group from Great Yarmouth and Waveney MIND and students from East Norfolk Sixth Form College and Great Yarmouth College. 67 volunteers contributing to the project in other ways include The Conservation Volunteers, Friends of Great Yarmouth Cemeteries and The Prince's Trust. Additionally, services have been offered by 27 skilled or professional members of the community working on a volunteer or in-kind basis, such as historians, archivists at the library, GYB Services personnel, artists, teachers etc. Altogether, to date, 4,353 in-kind hours have been given to the project. 269 visitors have also attended events to which the general public were invited.
ST.NICHOLAS PRIORY JUNIOR SCHOOL
Year 5 Pupils have been making bird nest boxes in wildlife workshops delivered by Mark Webster, TCV, and Bridget Heriz. The boxes have come in kit form put together by volunteers at the Norfolk Haw and Old Trust. The pupils walked round the Old Cemetery with Mark and Bridget and their teachers, selecting trees where they would like the boxes to be hung. Following on from the wildlife workshops. ten pupils volunteered to create an animation about the cemeteries with the artist and filmmaker Matthew Harrison. To view the animation click on this link:
FRIENDS OF GREAT YARMOUTH CEMETERIES
One of the prime aims of the project was to support the initiation of an independent Friends of the Great Yarmouth Cemeteries to take maintenance and care of the site forward after project completion. By July 2013 there were already 26 members, with a team meeting regularly for hands-on work on site. To find our more and how to be come involved, navigate to the Friends of Great Yarmouth Cemeteries Page by clicking here
The Friends also have a Facebook page, Friends of Great Yarmouth Cemeteries.
The Friends meet the 1st Saturday of every month to clear graves and work in the cemeteries under a Partnership Agreement with GYB Services. They meet at 10 am at the Non-Conformist Chapel in the New Cemetery. This is the second chapel in the cemetery to the north of Kitchener Road. New members are always most welcome, just turn up or call the Working Party Foreman, Ken McCullough on 01493 731908.
Friends in the Working Party planting whips to create a screen around the green waste area.
A new mowing regime was agreed with GYB Services this year, based on a full wild flower survey undertaken last year by Mark Webster of The Conservation Volunteers. Interpretation panels have been installed to explain the regime and provide information about plots set aside for spring and summer flowering plants. The Friends have been raking up the cuttings once the plots have been strimmed.
A Great Yarmouth Green Gym team are working in the cemeteries every first Tuesday of the month over the next few months. They have been keeping P Plot under control. This was so completely overgrown initially, it is going to take some continued attention for quite a while to keep the vegetation from taking over again. The team discovered another pebble grave during their clearing alongside the path on Tuesday 1st April.
The team has seen increased numbers - the group seems so happy and everybody really enjoys working in the Cemeteries.
Five buildings conservation students from Estonia visited Great Yarmouth over the first week in April 2014 to conserve a crumbling medieval carved stone doorway on the external south wall of Great Yarmouth Minster, and also to help restore the listed Palmer Chest Tomb to the west of the MInster. The students are from the Hiiumaa Vocational College, in Hiiumaa, an island on the western coast of Estonia, in Eastern Europe. This is part of the Trust's European partnership with the college, which aims to share knowledge about traditional buildings skills and conservation on a pan-European level. Two of the five students were part of an earlier team who visited during the summer 2013 to conserve a listed monument in the churchyard whilst learning various conservation skills.
The students worked under the supervision of Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust conservators, William Wallace and Cathy Mijatovic, who were previously trainees on the trust's nationally-acclaimed conservation training programme delivered as part of the Cemeteries Project (see below).
Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust was commissioned by the church to clean and restore the 15th century lancet arch doorway. It is one of the surviving medieval features of what was earlier known as the Parish Church of St. Nicholas, rebuilt following the Second World War, after a German air raid left only the Norman tower and the walls standing. The ornate stonework depicts a king on one side, possibly Edward 1, and a queen on the other. But over the centuries, the limestone has been eroded by freezing weather and acid rain.
CONSERVATION SKILLS TRAINING
Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust delivered a conservation skills training programme over the period 12th January to 25th June, 2013. This was divided into two modules, the first delivered over a period of ten weeks with 20 volunteer trainees learning how to categorise, record and survey stones and tombs. The trainees worked in two groups, one on Mondays and the other on Tuesdays.
They were introduced to materials and decay mechanisms, methods of research using historical records in the library, creating a database for their recording activity in the churchyard, making measured drawings and understanding the history of the site. By the end of the module they were able to make specifications and show enough understanding of conservation issues to select tombs to be repaired in the 2nd Module.
Training was delivered by conservation specialists Katie Langridge, Darren Barker and Ian Hardy. Trainees were helped with their research tasks by Paul Davies and volunteers at the Central Library and the artist Jonathan Tooke worked with them to assemble ideas, images and text for a Cemeteries Booklet, due for publication shortly. Penny Larson delivered individual learning support and development, working closely with the trainees on career development, including CV writing, arranging certificated training in 1st Aid and Health and Safety at the Priory Centre, Great Yarmouth Community Trust, and identifying further learning opportunities appropriate to their needs and objectives.
The second module started on the 25th March with fourteen trainees and ran to the end of June. The programme provided hands-on practical training in basic conservation skills. Trainees worked in pairs and selected the tombs they wished to repair, working under the supervision of conservation specialists Katie Langridge, Darren Barker and Ian Hardy and with training provided by John Briggs, stonemason, and Nigel Barnett, artist blacksmith.
During the 2nd Module, many in the team started attending both Monday and Tuesday sessions and they achieved far more than the expected outcomes, having taken real ownership of their conservation work. Additionally they participated in other events, such as contributing artwork to the Art Amongst the Stones exhibition presented in the Minster, attending Norfolk Wildlife Trust workshops, supporting the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Mind group and continuing work on drawing up a plan of the remaining marked graves in the churchyard.
The trainees have often commented on how rewarded they were by appreciative comments made by the many people who walk through the cemeteries and churchyard, revealing the real impact this project has had within the community at large.
The volunteer trainees have been magnificent, attending in all weather conditions, freezing cold, wind, rain and searing heat, and showing enthusiasm and commitment throughout. They are
Arthur Balls, Roy Bird (1st Module only), Emma Brewer (1st Module), Paul Carter, Michael Chambers, Daniel Clark (1st Module), Fran Delay, Giles Evans, Robert Garvey (1st Module), Philip Grimshaw, Philip Harrington (1st Module), Rachel Harrison, David Harwood, Irene Jordan (1st Module), Peter Laxton, Cathy Mijatovic, Tom Rowley, Andrew Stebbings, Derick Stolworthy and William Wallace. John Paul Thompson participated as helper and Dee Bracewell and Danielle Lefeuvre volunteered as support assistants.
Two of the trainees have been taken on as apprentices with Wellington Construction Ltd., the contractor on a Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust historic building conservation project. Four are continuing work in the cemeteries on a part-time, self-employed basis with a view to taking up further training opportunities and developing a livelihood in conservation. Another is continuing further education in conservation studies.
The Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust will shortly be taking ownership of the Non-Conformist Chapel in the New Cemetery and the volunteer team will be invited to return to repair the building and make it fit for multi-purpose use, including further training. The Trust already has a waiting list for similar training opportunities on other projects pending. Anybody interested is invited to contact us, supplying your name, address, telephone number and email address if you have one.
Heritage Lottery Fund, Eastern Region, visited the project on 2nd July when Great Yarmouth was chosen for their annual Away Day, and English Heritage visited on the 4th June. Both were impressed with what has been achieved and described the project as "inspirational".
For 'My Experience of the Cemeteries Project' written by Cathy Mijatovic, open this PDF My Experience of the Cemeteries Project by Cathy Mijatovic (108.6 KB) , and 'Hidden Heritage' by David Harwood, open this PDF Hidden Heritage by David Harwood (116.6 KB) .
Carters supported the training programme with supplies of sand and brick.
The Norfolk Hawk and Owl Trust have built a peregrine platform and installed this on a plinth erected on Great Yarmouth Minster tower. Peregrines have been seen over Breydon Water so hopes are high that they will be attracted to the tower which provides a panoramic view across the rivers and marshes to the west of Great Yarmouth.
FRANCIS SKIDMORE RAILING AROUND THE MILLS MEMORIAL, OLD CEMETERY
Whilst working with the trainees, Nigel Barnett of Fransham Forge noticed the beautiful craftsmanship on the railing around the Mills Memorial in the Old Cemetery, identified as the work of the renowned Victorian metalworker, Francis Skidmore (1817-1896). As it may be considered for Grade II listing, the railing has been carefully removed for specialist repair at Fransham Forge. The 20ft high Mills monument, a granite plinth topped by a marble statue of Truth, was damaged by shrapnel in WW2. Even the delicate ironwork displays shrapnel damage, preserved for its historical interest.
JEWISH CEMETERY, KITCHENER ROAD
The entrance to the Jewish Cemetery at Great Yarmouth Cemeteries is on Kitchener Road. The cemetery is usually closed to the public but was opened on the 27th January 2014 for Holocaust Memorial Day.
GREAT YARMOUTH AND WAVENEY MIND
Young volunteers from Great Yarmouth and Waveney Mind helped towards completing the record of gravestones and monuments in the churchyard which was begun by the Friends last year and continued by the 1st module group on the conservation training programme. It is a daunting task but huge progress has been made and most of the stones have been cleared and plotted so that a churchyard plan can at last be drawn up. However, new graves are being discovered week by week, especially the pebble graves, many of which lay just under the turf. New graves are also being discovered as clearance continues. A database is being compiled of all the graves in the churchyard still marked by stones.
GREAT YARMOUTH COLLEGE STUDENTS
Students on a Construction Course at Great Yarmouth College are contributing to the cemeteries project on a work experience scheme. As well as learning how to survey and repair tombs, the students cleared around the King Henry Tower in the churchyard, careful to preserve the veteran elder which grows nearby. The tower is part of the medieval town wall, located on its NE corner.
EAST NORFOLK SIXTH FORM COLLEGE
A group of more than 50 students from East Norfolk Sixth Form College visited the Old Cemetery on 23rd September 2013 to study patterns of holly growth as a practical assignment for their A2 biology studies. The Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust is hoping to develop further study opportunities with the Sixth Form College.
THE CONSERVATION VOLUNTEERS
Great Yarmouth Green Gym will be working six sessions in Great Yarmouth cemeteries this Winter 2013-14. They will be attending on the 1st Tuesday of every month over six months, starting in October. Anybody who is interested in joining Great Yarmouth Green Gym can contact Sue Holmes at email@example.com. Great Yarmouth Green Gym is now an independent voluntary organisation which has evolved out of The Conservation Volunteers.
The Conservation Volunteers worked in the Old Cemetery one day a week over four months in 2012. Clearance activity was undertaken during the late Autumn months when there is no threat to nesting birds. 9 tonnes of green waste was removed during Green Gym's work in the Old Cemetery - their industry was truly impressive. More information about the activities of Green Gym and how to join in can be found on their website at www.tcv.org.uk/norfolk (see Great Yarmouth pages).
The Conservation Volunteers participated in the events organised at the cemeteries on the 7th September for Heritage Open Days, which included a talk on conserving the monuments by Darren Barker and a very popular guided tour by Paul Davies of Great Yarmouth Minster Preservation Trust.
Green Gym ran a demonstration session on the day and discovered one of the many pebble graves that are coming to light during clearance, and also the grave of a Mr. Bishop, "Owner and Commander of the Schooner 'Highlander' or Yarmouth, who died with all his crew when the vessel foundered off the coast of Holland" in the great gale of December 1867 Mark Webster, Norfolk Health Projects Officer at TCV, says the volunteers were so pleased to discover the details of a really interesting historic event which had been lost beneath the ivy for years. There was a lot of interest from visitors, one of whom was recruited there and then, getting stuck straight into clearance work!
Ben White, one of the TCV volunteers, also talked to delegates who attended the Association of Preservation Trusts Annual Conference which was held in Great Yarmouth in November 2012, answering questions about the remarkable amount of work TCV achieved in the Old Cemetery and how care was being taken regarding biodiversity on the site.
Old and New Cemeteries
For those who are buried in the Borough Cemeteries (post 1854), details are available from:
Great Yarmouth Borough Council Bereavement Services
Magdalen Lawn Cemetery,
Norfolk, NR31 7JJ
Telephone: 01493 441974
Many records were lost when the church was bombed in WWII but some records can be located in the Norfolk Record Office.
Norfolk Record Office,
The Archive Centre,
Norwich, NR1 2DQ
Telephone: 01603 222599
The Friends of Great Yarmouth Cemeteries have completed a record of the gravestones still standing in St. Nicholas Churchyard, Great Yarmouth Minster, and the record can be downloaded by clicking on the link below. You will need to refer to the plots on the churchyard plan which can also be downloaded here Plan of churchyard plots, St. Nicholas Churchyard (396.5 KB) .Completed record of graves in St. Nicholas Churchyard, Great Yarmouth Minster (1.1 MB)