Cemetery alive to tourists

IT'S not everybody's idea of a fun tourist attraction.In fact, you can hear the quips now: "I'll bet that's dead boring!" "It's a bit on the quiet side.

By Richard Cornwell

IT'S not everybody's idea of a fun tourist attraction.

In fact, you can hear the quips now: "I'll bet that's dead boring!"

"It's a bit on the quiet side."

"I'll have to be pushing up the daisies before I visit there."

But even so, Woodbridge can boast a new national attraction which might even bring some extra visitors to the riverside town – its cemetery.

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For English Heritage, the guardian of the country's monuments, has added the burial ground off Warren Hill Road to its Register of Parks and Gardens of special historic interest.

It says the older part of the Suffolk Coastal council-owned cemetery, which dates back to the mid-1850s, is "a well preserved example of a mid 19th century cemetery design".

"The register is intended to encourage more people to be aware of important historic parks and gardens," said Maggy Wilson, cabinet member for culture and leisure.

"Talking about a place where people are buried as a tourist attraction may sound strange, but a visit to an outstanding example of a well designed and maintained cemetery like Woodbridge's is becoming increasingly popular."

Many tourists do visit towns for their cemeteries – some to see the burial places of the famous, others simply to enjoy the peace and quiet or an evocative walk through a graveyard in mist or rain.

"This is a well-deserved accolade for those people in the past who made the effort to make this an attractive and well laid out cemetery, and also for the staff at Suffolk Coastal who are keeping it in tip-top condition," said Mrs Wilson.

"Its inclusion on the register also gives it more protection in the future as English Heritage has to be consulted about any proposed changes. Suffolk Coastal remains committed to keeping it in the quality condition that has helped it earn this significant recognition."

The older Woodbridge town cemetery was laid out in an informal style in 1856.

It extended a site previously been used as a burial ground for soldiers stationed in the town's Napoleonic War barracks, with a mass grave for 669 soldiers from the Duke of York's regiment. A memorial stone in the south-east corner of the site records their resting-place, buried between 1804 and 1814.

Woodbridge architect William Pattison designed the lodge and twin Norman-style mortuary chapels that formed, and still form, a key part of the cemetery.

The original five-acre site was later expanded beyond Cemetery Lane as the New Cemetery. This saw its first burials taking place from the Second World War onwards.

English Heritage pay particular tribute to the wide variety of both deciduous and coniferous trees – including fine specimens of copper beech, cedar, pine, lime and giant sequoia, as well as a good number of mature clipped yews.

"The wide variety of species and ages suggest that the cemetery has been continuously planted since it was consecrated in 1856, and the interesting and unusual range of tree species possibly reflects the past close relationship of the cemetery with the Notcutt nursery," said English Heritage.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

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