On the morning of Friday 12 April 2019, the Friends of the Wembdon Road Cemetery welcomed fellow churchyard and cemetery groups for a little tour round our burial ground, so we could discuss our various strategies and approaches for preserving disused burial grounds.
The visit was prompted by contact from the Friends of St James, Charfield, Gloucestershire, who are in the early stages of preserving and enhancing the ancient burial ground attached to the medieval parish church, which is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. Like the Friends of the Wembdon Road, they have many memorials in need of attention, but with the further difficulty that many of theirs are much older and more complicated to maintain. You can find out more here.
Also visiting were representatives from the Church of St Edward King and Martyr, Goathurst, who had been in contact as they are embarking on a project to conserve the magnificent Willis family monument in their churchyard, which dates to 1765. Although primarily focusing on this one memorial, the cost of repairing this listed structure will take a significant amount of money to realise.
Finally, we also welcomed the Friends of Mendip Hospital Cemetery, Wells, who kindly hosted us several years ago. Their cemetery is of like size and age to the Wembdon Road, although where we have hundreds of memorials and no surviving buildings, they have no memorials, but a beautiful chapel. The Friends of Mendip Hospital Cemetery have been in operation much longer than the Friends of the Wembdon Road, and have undertaken some wonderful projects, and you can learn more about them here.
While taking in the features of the Wembdon Road Cemetery and the story of its preservation and continued conservation, the four groups chatted over many aspects of memorial care and repair, community engagement, the importance of websites and social media, to other matters such as dealing with local authorities and church bodies.
One major take away for the Friends of the Wembdon Road was how fortunate we have been to have had such a supportive body of local organisations, both Sedgemoor District and Bridgwater Town councils, to the various local churches (St Mary's, Holy Trinity and St George's) and chapels (Unitarian, Roman Catholic, Quaker), and memorial mason (Fine Memorials) in supporting our efforts.