Memorandum by the Friends of War Memorials
I write in response to the Environment Sub-committee's
notice of it's inquiry into cemeteries. Friends of War Memorials
is the national charity concerned with war memorials of all dates
and types. Whilst a great many of the war memorials that take
the form of external sculpture or monuments are situated in urban
spaces, village greens or main streets, or in churchyards, a significant
number are located in great urban or smaller local cemeteries.
FoWM is also aware of instances where, given changes to site ownership,
land use and urban morphology, war memorials have been relocated
into cemeteries from other sites. FoWM's concerns therefore relate
chiefly to historic cemeteries, their environmental, historical
and cultural significance, and their current condition and funding.
The environmental, historical and cultural significance
of cemeteries cannot be in doubt (see "Mortal Remains"
by Dr C Brooks). Many of the great C19 cemeteries were planned
as environmental assets as well as places of burial and share
characteristics with public parks of the same period (for example
at Nottingham and Liverpool). They were carefully laid out, even
landscaped, often with the cemetery buildings as "eyecatchers"
and specimen planting of arboretum quality (for example at Coventry,
the work of renown architect and designer Joseph Paxton). Cemeteries
are also vitally important repositories of memorial and funerary
art, design and craftcemetery chapels, other cemetery buildings
such as gatehouses, lodges and shelters, and monuments, individually
and as a group or type. Cemeteries are a significant and particular
type of heritage resource, but in our experience are not always
valued as such. Like the war memorials which many contain, they
also provide a wealth of social historical information.
FoWM recognises that cemeteries present particular
management and conservation issues which are of concerncombating
casual opportunist and pre-meditated vandalism and misuse, architectural
theft, arson attacks on cemetery buildings (which are often disused);
and provision of maintenance at an appropriate level and frequency,
within budgetary limitations. Levels of statutory protection are
also an issue. Whereas some cemeteries are themselves, or lie
within, designated Conservation Areas, in others protection is
limited to the individual listing of particular monuments (including
war memorials), often in the absence of an overview of the grain
and complexity of the whole cemetery, which provides the context
for these listed memorials. Some cemeteries' significance is recognised
by inclusion on English Heritage's Parks and Gardens Register,
but this does not afford them any special protection.
FoWM would identify its key concerns as being
security and stewardship of cemeteries and the monuments and memorials
they contain, funding for regular upkeep, repairs and emergency
works, but also in some instances for rehabilitation of cemeteries
where lack of resources or neglect have led to decline over time;
and use of the cemetery and its buildings for particular purposes
and as an environmental asset.
M A Goodall (Ms)