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Wickhamford Parish Council Burial Ground, consecrated in 1956

Close to the boundary with Badsey lies Wickhamford Parish Council Burial Ground, in a rural setting with a backdrop of the Cotswolds and a distant view of Broadway Tower.  The Cemetery was consecrated in 1956 and the first burial took place early in 1957.  As at February 2021, around 300 burials have taken place.

Wickhamford Cemetery

The need for a new burial ground

At a village meeting in August 1953, the problem of burials in Wickhamford was discussed. The churchyard of St John the Baptist had room for only two further burials and an alternative site needed to be found urgently.  Mr E. W. Sturt, Chairman of the Parish Council said that, because of the expense involved, the Parochial Church Council could not proceed with the extension of the churchyard, although the land had been given by Mr W. H. Batty and Mrs Sandys-Lumsdaine of Wickhamford Manor.

It was estimated that the cost of providing a burial ground would be in the region of £1,000, if the Burial Acts of 1852-1906 were adopted.  The attendance at the meeting was said to be disappointing, only about twenty being there and the majority of them were members of the Parochial Church Council.  The lack of support meant that it was impossible to proceed with any scheme. The question of the provision of a Burial Ground then devolved upon the Parish Council. It was decided that the villagers should be consulted and another meeting called.

In October 1953, one suggestion was that people dying in the village should be buried in Evesham, but Mr Sturt said that this would triple the cost of fees involved to around £100.  It was also pointed out that the Evesham authorities might refuse to accept Wickhamford people being buried there.  After a long discussion it was proposed that a burial ground was needed in the village and that the Burial Acts of 1812-1926 be adopted. The expense in laying out the Burial Ground with fences and paths would be in the region of £1,000.  The resolution was carried that a loan for this amount be raised and repaid at £75 p.a. over 20 years.

Possible sites considered

In November 1953, at a further meeting, six possible sites for a new Burial Ground were discussed. The one chosen was land along Golden Lane owned by Mr W. H. Batty.  The other options were:

1.    Land next to Pearce’s greenhouses in Manor Road, on land owned by Mrs Daffurn of Elm Farm.
2.    Land occupied by piggeries and a garden on Wickhamford Lane.
3.    Land along the lane off of Pitchers Hill, by Mr F. Smith’s bungalow.
4.    Land along the Burnt Road, owned by Mrs Daffurn.
5.    Land in Wickhamford Lane, owned by Mr Jelfs and near Mr Sheaf’s house.

In July 1955, at a Parish Council meeting, Mr Sturt had a letter from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government consenting to the application for a loan of £1,100 for the proposed burial ground scheme.  It was unanimously agreed to apply for such a loan at 4% for 30 years.  The Parish Council had purchased a site for the new Burial Ground, on Golden Lane, but from Mr A. W. Ballard of Badsey, not Mr Batty.  The Ministry asked for trial holes to be dug and their Inspector had inspected them.  The layout of the ground would provide for a semi-circular entrance to enable cars to pull off the road.  There would be iron gates with Cotswold Stone pillars, a footpath down the centre of the site and a wire mesh fence all around, with a hedge inside.  

In addition, other proposals do not seem to have been carried out.  These were a building large enough to act as a robing room for Ministers, the planting of some ornamental trees and a screening hedge for a tool shed.  A water supply was laid on.

The contract for laying out the site had been accepted by Mr Emms, of Hampton and work was expected to start at an early date.

Consecration of the Burial Ground

The Consecration of the Burial Ground took place on Sunday, 14th October 1956.  The Assistant Bishop of Worcester, the Rt. Rev. C. E. Stuart was received at the entrance by Mr Sturt, who read a Petition for Consecration and presented it to the Bishop with the words “Reverend Father of God, we beg you to consecrate this ground for the burial of our people”.  The Bishop received the Petition, saying, “I am Willing to perform the Consecration”.  Then the Bishop, preceded by members of the Parish Council and the Churchwardens, and followed by the Vicar, Rev. W. B. Chapman, the Clerk, Mr C. Willis, the Methodist Minister, Rev. J. Wesley Culshaw, the Choir and Congregation proceeded round the ground to be consecrated singing Psalms 16 and 23.

The Bishop then consecrated and blessed the ground, caused the Sentence of Consecration to be read, signed it and directed its preservation.  A part of the site remains unconsecrated.

The first burial

It was four months later, on 14th February 1957, that the first burial took place in the new Burial Ground. Nellie Ethel Southern, a 53-year-old housewife of 58 Pitchers Hill, who had died on 9th February, was interred in plot 1.

Tom Locke, February 2021

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