Memorandum by Sandra Hull (CEM 118)
I have just heard about the current inquiry
by members of the Commons Environment Sub-committee, into proposals
to open old graves for re-use as burial sites. I am most alarmed
at this suggestion and am writing to you as I believe you are
Chairman of this Committee.
Here in Boston we have a very beautiful cemetery,
the oldest part of which opened in 1855 and may therefore be affected
by any such changes. Originally only 12 acres, the cemetery now
occupies approximately 40 acres plus an adjoining crematorium
and grounds. Like many other Victorian cemeteries the original
area was landscaped and planted as a botanic garden with a fine
collection of exotic trees, some of which remain today and are
much treasured and admired. I fear that any large scale excavations
would severely undermine these trees.
Bulbs etc planted on the graves by the Victorians
in memory of loved ones have since naturalised and carpet the
whole area which is now treated as a conservation section and
managed accordingly. In recent years as a volunteer I have been
involved with surveying the flora and fauna and have produced
an illustrated talk which has been given to many local organisations
on behalf of the RSPB, and free guided walks regularly attract
over 40 people a time. Unlike many cities, we do not have large
parks, and being in the fens this is the nearest we have to a
woodland and a woodland ecology in the heart of our town and all
this would be ruined by any plans to re-use the area for burials.
Victorian cemeteries have an aesthetic beauty
about them which is missing from their modern counterparts, as
is the magnificent monumental architecture which is our historical
heritage and it would be pure desecration to lay them to waste.
As yet there are still vacant plots in the newer
part of the cemetery, but councillors have already voiced concerns
over land space available in the future. I fear that the proposed
change in regulations would encourage local councils nationwide
to take the "cheaper" option of re-use with considerable
environmental, ethical and historical costs.