Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sheffield General Cemetery
The General Cemetery is a cemetery in the City of Sheffield, England that opened in 1836 and closed for burial in 1978. It was the principle cemetery in Victorian Sheffield with over 87,000 burials. Today it is a conservation area (one of only six in South Yorkshire), and it is listed on the English Heritage National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
The cemetery is located to the south-west of central Sheffield. It is in the district called Sharrow, on a north-facing hillside between Sharrow Vale and Sharrow Head. The Porter Brook runs along its north-western edge, the south-eastern boundary is Cemetery Road.
The General Cemetery was one of the first commercial cemeteries in Britain. Its opening in 1836 as a Nonconformist cemetery was a response to the rapid growth of Sheffield and the relatively poor state of the town's churchyards. The cemetary, with its Greek Doric and Egytpian style buildings, was designed by Sheffield architect Samuel Worth (1779–1870) on the site of a former quarry. Landscaping was managed by Robert Marnock , who also designed Sheffield Botanical Gardens (1836) and Weston Park (1873). The first burial was of Mary Ann Fish, a victim of tuberculosis. An Anglican cemetery was consecrated alongside the Nonconformist cemetery in 1846—the wall that divided the un-consecrated and consecrated ground can still be seen today. By 1916 the cemetery was rapidly filling up and running out of space, burials in family plots continued through the 1950s and 1960s but by 1978 ownership of the cemetery had passed to Sheffield City Council and it was closed to all new burials. In 1980 the council got permission by Act of Parliament to clear 800 gravestones to make a recreation area. Through the 1980s and 1990s most of the rest of the cemetery was left untouched, becoming overgrown and an important sanctuary for local wildlife. Unfortunately, many of the buildings also fell into disrepair. In early 2003 work began to restore the gatehouse and catacombs funded by a £500,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund .
- The Gatehouse (Grade II* listed). This is built directly over the Porter Brook possibly so that entering the cemetery is symbollic of the crossing of the river Styx in Greek mythology.
- The Egyptian Gate (Grade II* listed)
- The Nonconformist chapel (Grade II* listed)
- The Anglican chapel (added in 1850). Designed in the Gothic style by William Flockton (1804–1864).
- The Registrar's house (Grade II listed)
- The Catacombs. There are two rows of catacombs built into the hillside, but only a few burials were made in them.
- George Bassett (1818–1886). Founder of The Bassett Company—the company that invented of Liquorice Allsorts. Lord Mayor of Sheffield (1876).
- John, Thomas, and Skelton Cole. Founders of Sheffield's Cole Brothers department store in 1847—now part of the John Lewis Partnership.
- Francis Dickinson (1830–1898). One of the soldiers who fought in the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean war.
- Mark Firth (25 April 1819–28 November 1880). Steel manufacturer, Master Cutler (1867), Lord Mayor of Sheffield (1874), and founder of Firth College in 1870 (later Sheffield University).
- John Fowler. Father of the designer of the Forth Rail Bridge (also called John).
- John Gunson (1809–1886). Chief engineer of the Sheffield Water Company at the time of the collapse of Dale Dyke Dam on 11 March 1864, which resulted in the Great Sheffield Flood. Samuel Harrison—who documented the flood— and 77 of the flood's victims are also buried in the cemetery.
- Samuel Holberry (1816–1842). A leading figure in the Chartist movement.
- James Montgomery (1771–1854). Poet/Publisher. The grave and monument to James Montgomery, were moved to the grounds of Sheffield Cathedral in the 1970s.
- "The Sheffield General Cemetery." Suzielda's cemetery site. Accessed on April 2, 2005.
- "Work starts on cemetery restoration." BBC News. Accessed on April 2, 2005.
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