The Gatehouse

Cemetery Road



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 The Deed of Settlement, giving formal status to the existence and objective of York Public Cemetery Company was made on 7th of March 1838. The cemetery was to be open to all persons of all religious denominations; who shall be allowed to inter their dead, according to their respective views of the rites of sepulture.

The privilege of burial and the purchase of graves and vaults and the rights of interment, with or without religious rights, was to be open on equal terms to everybody but prompt payment was required for these privileges. Lower prices were available for the poor with those living in houses rated at 5 a year or less being charged only the actual cost of interment.

The Church of England chose the half of the ground furthest away from Cemetery Road as the portion to be consecrated leaving the remainder for the Dissenters.

Double-bodied omnibus hearse designed by J.R. Croft with a tight partition between the corpse and mourners to prevent offensive smells reaching them.

The first burial in the consecrated ground was that of the body of William Nicholson, a 29 year old servant from Garden Place, Hungate, who had died of typhus four days previously. The funeral cost 4/6d. for the burial which included the ministers fee, with another 3/- for his body and eight mourners to be conveyed in a special hearse provided by the company for the convenience of the poor who lived at a distance.

The public graves were 'indiscriminately' placed among the private graves and family vaults and not relegated to the least valuable parts of the cemetery. Once filled they were planted over and marked on the ground plan as graves never to be opened again. This was advantageous to the private graves as public graves seldom had monuments placed on them. This secured open space around the private graves which would otherwise been crowded together more frequently than at present.

Examples of monuments from the pattern book of W.P. Ruddock

On the 9th of May 1966 the directors of the York Cemetery Company petitioned the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, Companies Court which made a winding up order on the 13th of June.

The York Cemetery Company bowed out on the 12th of April 1979 when the formal order disclaiming all interest in the 24 acres of freehold land was signed. During the next five or so years the cemetery was maintained by the efforts of John Snape and groups including the 'Bereaved Relatives Committee.'

In 1981 The Friends of York Cemetery was formed with the three aims of maintaining it as a functioning cemetery and to develop it as a centre for the discovery and interpretation of the 19th and 20th century history of York and to manage the habitat for nature study. On 13th of February 1987 the Crown Estate Commissioners conveyed the freehold of the cemetery to the Friends of York Cemetery 24 acres,' in consideration of the sum of 1' without any encumbrances.

Work on the restoration of the chapel started on 9th of July with the roof completed by January 1988. The first stage of restoration completed, from now on, with the experience gained, the future tasks would be so much easier.

This much abbreviated history of the York Cemetery has been taken from a book 'This Garden of Death' written by Hugh Murray of the York Cemetery Trust. I would recommend anyone with an interest in this and any other old cemetery to read this enlightening book.

The Cemetery Trust have transcribed all the burial records of the York Cemetery Company to computer readable form, these contain the records of all burials on this site. The York Family History Society also are in the process of transcribing the M.I's. (Tombstones)

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