Cemeteries' funding gap targeted

Drew Bennellick says Heritage Lottery Fund wants to help more projects to restore burial grounds.

Cemeteries: value highlighted (credit HW)
Cemeteries: value highlighted (credit HW)

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) wants to give more money to projects to restore burial grounds, head of landscape and natural heritage Drew Bennellick has said.

Speaking at the London Parks & Gardens Trust summer lecture, Bennellick said commons and cemeteries are "lagging behind public parks" in green-space investment. They are often overlooked but cemeteries hold potential value for quiet recreational space and as tourist attractions, he pointed out.

Cemeteries were added back into the HLF's Parks for People funding programme three years ago. Since then just seven cemetery projects have been funded. Last week HLF announced grants for London Road Cemetery in Coventry, Wrexham Cemetery, Belfast City Cemetery, and Northwood Cemetery on the Isle of Wight.

Bennellick called that news "brilliant and very exciting" but believes more can be done, both to fund physical restoration works and community engagement.

For example, the HLF currently funds west London's Brompton Cemetery, which will return for its second funding round in December.

"The project isn't just about the fabric of the cemetery," said Bennellick. "It's about how we engage with people by telling the stories of the cemetery. It's about creating a cafe so people can spend longer in the cemetery." The grant will also help Brompton's friends group to become more active.

The HLF has commissioned a guidance report, due out in September, to help those involved in cemeteries reach out to the community.

Belfast City Cemetery - Restoration funding

The Heritage Lottery Fund has granted £1.8m to West Belfast City Cemetery. Famous figures buried there include Edward Harland of Harland & Wolff.

The space also holds the only Jewish burial ground in Northern Ireland, a "poor ground" and an underground wall built to divide Protestants and Catholics.

The grant will pay for the restoration of the cemetery's listed features, create a visitor centre and provide information boards, maps and publications about the site's history.

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