Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by The Heritage Lottery Fund (CEM 68)


  The Heritage Lottery Fund was set up under the National Lottery Act 1993 to distribute money provided by the National Lottery to heritage projects and activities. The Fund is distributed by the Trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Above £300 million per annum is currently distributed from the Fund throughout the UK.

  The aim of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is to:

    "improve the quality of life by safeguarding and enhancing the heritage of buildings, objects and the environment, whether man-made or natural, which have been important in the formation of the character and identity of the United Kingdom, in a way which will encourage more sections of society to appreciate and enjoy their heritage and enable them to hand it on in good heart to future generations."

  Our Strategic Plan 1999-2002 sets out how we will use lottery money to meet the needs of the national heritage whilst taking account of policy directions given to us by Government. These require us to take account of:

    —  the scope for reducing economic and social deprivation at the same time as creating heritage benefits;

    —  the need to ensure that all parts of the United Kingdom have access to funding;

    —  the need to promote access for people from all sections of society;

    —  the need to promote knowledge of and interest in the heritage by children and young people;

    —  the need to further the objectives of sustainable development.


  The Heritage Lottery Fund is able to support applications for grants to cemeteries within this context.

  Cemeteries evoke a sense of history and a sense of place. This may be heightened if they are also the resting place of someone well known locally or nationally. They may lie within the curtilage of a listed church or the individual tombs may themselves be listed. Cemeteries, particularly those laid out during the 19th century to cater for a growing urban population, can also be listed as designed landscapes in the English Heritage National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. They may fall within a conservation area.

  Cemeteries are also important places within the collective identity of families or communities, as they are often social documents to the past life of a locality expressed in a telling and memorable fashion. Quite apart from the personal memories they evoke, they are also a document, through the remains of those buried within them, to the lives and work, the social and economic history, of past ages.

  Cemeteries can provide valued public open space. They often represent a "green oasis" in urban areas and can be important in terms of nature and habitat conservation. They may represent an integral part of a community's history and development and can be used an educational resource. Where families of people laid to rest in the cemetery and other volunteers participate in their upkeep, cemeteries can act as a focus for community involvement and increasing awareness of the heritage.


  Cemeteries may be eligible for funding under several of HLF's current grant programmes. Grants are awarded where the cemetery meets our core aims of providing conservation and wider public benefits, rather than because cemeteries comprise a special kind of heritage in themselves.

  The majority of grants specifically to cemeteries have been made under the Urban Parks Programme. In common with historic urban parks, many of the major 19th century cemeteries are often neglected, inaccessible or poorly maintained. Projects incorporate the restoration of the historic designs, planting and features; the protection of natural habitats; improved public access and security, and enhanced maintenance.

  HLF's main grants programme has supported the repair and conservation of a number of disused cemetery buildings of historic importance, providing public access.

  Cemeteries may also be eligible for grants under our Revenue Grants Programme and the Awards for All schemes. Capital projects could include small-scale environmental improvements and the restoration of features.

  Revenue Grants aim to widen and enhance popular access to the heritage by encouraging projects which meet the aims of developing new audiences, delivering educational benefits, increasing study, understanding and enjoyment of heritage assets and encouraging active participation in heritage activities. This might include encouraging awareness of the site as a leisure space, a repository of social history, or a place of nature interest.

  A Revenue Grant could fund, for example, interpretation of a cemetery, historical surveys, or studies of natural habitats; particularly where local groups initiate these activities.

  Work to churchyard burial grounds has occasionally been supported under the Joint Grant Scheme for Churches and Other Places of Worship (JPOW) which is run jointly with English Heritage. JPOW is primarily aimed at buildings, which are in regular use for public worship, (unlike cemetery chapels). It gives priority to urgent structural repairs and the provision of enhanced community facilities. The enhancement of churchyards and repair of historic features is an occasional adjunct and additional benefit supported through such schemes.

  To date HLF has funded 12 projects which are mainly concerned with cemeteries, totalling £3,352,133. This does not include those projects where a small amount of work to a cemetery—or a green space which may once have been a cemetery—has been funded within a larger grant.


Whitstable Road Jewish Cemetery, Canterbury, Kent

  The Jewish Cemetery in Canterbury is associated with one of the oldest Jewish Communities in England. The Cemetery itself dates from 1760, and is situated just outside the city walls, within a conservation area. Hidden away behind the surrounding historic townscape, the cemetery was closed to the public and little known beyond the Jewish community, to whom it is of significant cultural importance. A grant of £42,000 was awarded in 1997 to Canterbury City Council to undertake the clearance of sycamore and encroaching undergrowth, repair the 18th century walls, and to improve both physical access and provide an interpretation board and signage. The Council entered into a lease with the Jewish Burial Grounds charity in order to undertake both the project and long-term management of the site, and open the cemetery to the public.

All Saints Cemetery, Nunhead, London

  All Saints Cemetery was created in 1840 by James Bunstone Bunning and is widely regarded as one of the finest designs of its period. The Chapel and Cemetery are grade II listed and lie within a conservation area and a site of Nature Conservation Importance. Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £1.25 million to the London Borough of Southwark in December 1997 to repair and stabilise the chapel and other structures within the cemetery including two neo-classical lodges and monumental gates. Work has yet to begin on site, but once complete the cemetery environment will be safer, more secure and include a ranger presence. As such it will offer greater opportunities for educational visits and an accessible resource for recreational use, including improved access for people with disabilities.

Highgate Cemetery, London

  Highgate Cemetery was opened in 1839 and divides into two roughly equal areas, the East and West Cemeteries. The whole cemetery is a conservation area and a grade II* listed landscape and includes more than 30 listed structures. Heritage Lottery fund awarded a grant of £500,000 to the Friends of Highgate Cemetery and the Highgate Cemetery Charity in October 1997 for the restoration of the boundary walls and railings of the West Cemetery. Work is currently in progress and is due to complete by the end of 2001.

Birmingham Cathedral Churchyard

  Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant of £2,253,000 in March 1997 for a full programme of restoration to the Churchyard of the Cathedral Church of St Philip, reinstating the 18th Century churchyard layout as fully as possible in sympathy with this grade I listed church. Together, the Cathedral and Churchyard form an integral part of the heart of Birmingham.

  Work began on site in March this year and will include landscaping and tree planting, repair and installation of walls and railings, improvements to pedestrian access, signage an site furniture and the introduction of security cameras.

  These case studies illustrate how the allocation of Lottery money to cemeteries has been able to deliver heritage benefits alongside wider public benefits. In each instance HLF grant has helped to foster productive partnerships and lever in other sources of funding.

December 2000

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 29 March 2001