Preserving a past treasure for future generations the guiding principle to newly restored chapel of rest at Wisbech General Cemetery

PUBLISHED: 10:59 18 April 2019

Unveiling a plaque to commemorate work completed on the chapel at Wisbech General Cemetery., Picture; WISBECH SOCIETY

Unveiling a plaque to commemorate work completed on the chapel at Wisbech General Cemetery., Picture; WISBECH SOCIETY

Archant

Around 100 trustees, members, friends and guests gathered at Wisbech General Cemetery, off North End, as Wisbech Society officially opened the newly restored chapel of rest.

The chapel interior in September 2017 prior to the restoration at Wisbech General Cemetery., Picture; WISBECH SOCIETYThe chapel interior in September 2017 prior to the restoration at Wisbech General Cemetery., Picture; WISBECH SOCIETY

Wisbech Society trustees revealed a little of the cemetery's history, before explaining the fundraising and restoration process.

The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the Society £303,800 of funding in 2017, primarily for the chapel's restoration, but also for improvements and repairs within the cemetery. Building work began in January 2018, for a successful conclusion that September.

For many years prior, the Friends of Wisbech General Cemetery had worked tirelessly, with occasional financial support from Wisbech Society, keeping the cemetery from the worst ravages of nature.

Now the friends and society are working together more closely than ever, helping ensure the site's availability for the enjoyment of future generations.

A key element in the opening ceremony saw relatives of some of those interred in Wisbech General Cemetery unveiled a plaque commemorating the event. The oak plaque is in timber from an unsafe tree felled during the restoration process. Meanwhile, local choir Viva La Voce provided musical accompaniment.

The event also drew attention to the new www.wisbechgeneralcemetery.org website, established using HLF funding. As well as news and event notifications, it includes a searchable database of those buried in the cemetery.

The official opening concluded with the launch of Wisbech General Cemetery 1836–2019, a revised, updated book based on an original publication from 1995.

With the indoor celebration complete, guests were invited to walk around the cemetery grounds, surveying the historic monuments and enjoying the site's extraordinary wildlife, with friends' representatives on hand to answer questions and provide guidance. Refreshments, served back in the chapel, which now also features a kitchenette and accessible toilet, brought the afternoon to a close.

HLF funding will support the Wisbech General Cemetery project until 2020, after which it will become self-supporting. Wisbech Society launched a corporate appeal to this end in 2018, while the chapel is also available to hire.

Details of the facility and its availability can be had from Lorena, on coordinator@wisbech-society.co.uk.

Copies of Wisbech General Cemetery 1836–2019 are available through the Wisbech Society website (www.wisbech-society.co.uk) at £5.00 each, plus £1.50 postage and packing. Individuals or organisations interested in contributing to the corporate appeal are invited to contact Wisbech Society treasurer David Crouch, on treasurer@wisbech-society.co.uk.

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