Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by Sandra Hull (CEM 118)

  I have just heard about the current inquiry by members of the Commons Environment Sub-committee, into proposals to open old graves for re-use as burial sites. I am most alarmed at this suggestion and am writing to you as I believe you are Chairman of this Committee.

  Here in Boston we have a very beautiful cemetery, the oldest part of which opened in 1855 and may therefore be affected by any such changes. Originally only 12 acres, the cemetery now occupies approximately 40 acres plus an adjoining crematorium and grounds. Like many other Victorian cemeteries the original area was landscaped and planted as a botanic garden with a fine collection of exotic trees, some of which remain today and are much treasured and admired. I fear that any large scale excavations would severely undermine these trees.

  Bulbs etc planted on the graves by the Victorians in memory of loved ones have since naturalised and carpet the whole area which is now treated as a conservation section and managed accordingly. In recent years as a volunteer I have been involved with surveying the flora and fauna and have produced an illustrated talk which has been given to many local organisations on behalf of the RSPB, and free guided walks regularly attract over 40 people a time. Unlike many cities, we do not have large parks, and being in the fens this is the nearest we have to a woodland and a woodland ecology in the heart of our town and all this would be ruined by any plans to re-use the area for burials.

  Victorian cemeteries have an aesthetic beauty about them which is missing from their modern counterparts, as is the magnificent monumental architecture which is our historical heritage and it would be pure desecration to lay them to waste.

  As yet there are still vacant plots in the newer part of the cemetery, but councillors have already voiced concerns over land space available in the future. I fear that the proposed change in regulations would encourage local councils nationwide to take the "cheaper" option of re-use with considerable environmental, ethical and historical costs.

Sandra Hull

January 2001

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