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Bedford Cemetery

Introduction

The cemetery, which is laid out in picturesque style, is on a hillside site with views over Bedford and the Great Ouse Valley. Features include a red-brick Gothic entrance lodge, paired chapels and a range of specimen trees and shrubs, predominantly evergreens. A mid-C19 cemetery, laid out in picturesque style and opened in 1855.

Terrain

Sloping hillside.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

Bedford Cemetery lies on the northern side of the town, occupying the sloping hillside of Foster's Hill, immediately above and to the north of Bedford Park (qv), with views over Bedford and the Great Ouse Valley. The 14ha cemetery is divided from the park by metal railings and a yew hedge. The boundary to the west is a wide footpath known as Cemetery Hill. To the north and east late-C20 housing is separated from the cemetery by a landscaped strip with footpath. The area was extended slightly at the north-east corner in the 1980s.

Entrances and Approaches

The main entrance to the cemetery lies at the south-west corner of the site, marked by a red-brick Gothic entrance lodge and carriage arch (c 1855).

Other Land

A path winds north-east up from the entrance lodge and carriage arch to the paired, stone lancet chapels (c 1855), set end-to-end and linked by a porte-cochèrewith tower. These buildings, by Thomas Jobson Jackson of Bedford, form the focus of the design, the layout of the ground also being by Jackson, assisted by John Usher. A stone crematorium (1955) stands north of the chapels.

From the chapels, which stand to the south-west of the centre of the site, winding paths provide access through and round the ground.

The cemetery is well planted with a range of specimen trees and shrubs, predominantly evergreens. There are a number of monuments of quality to leading C19 Bedford citizens. North-east of the chapels the Wyatt family enclosure, railed and gated, contains a good selection of Victorian memorial types, including the tomb of James Wyatt (d 1878), the founder of the Bedford Times, who secured the land for the cemetery. There have been a few areas of clearance.

Maps

  • OS 6" to 1 mile: 1912 edition, revised 1924


Reasons For Designation

Bedford Cemetery is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

  • A good example of an early High Victorian (1855) public cemetery for a provincial town in informal Picturesque style by the local architect Thomas Jobson Jackson of Bedford, complimented by a late-C19 extension in similar style (1885).
  • The Gothic structures, also by Jobson, form a notable ensemble and include offices, mortuary, lodge, gatehouse and chapels.
  • Social interest is expressed in an artistic variety of C19 monuments including many Bedford worthies notably the Wyatt family enclosure, railed and gated, contains a good selection of Victorian memorial types, including the tomb of James Wyatt (d 1878), the founder of the Bedford Times, who secured the land for the cemetery.
  • The cemetery layout and structures survive intact, with notable survival of C19 planting including evergreen trees and shrubs.


Description written: February 1999

Amended: April 1999

Edited: December 2009, May 2022

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

This is a municipal site for general public use.

Directions

North-east of Bedford, west of the A421

Owners

Bedford Borough Council

Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AP
History

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

19th Century

Opened in 1855, the cemetery was established by Bedford Joint Burial Board. The original 8ha site was doubled in size in 1885.

Period

Victorian (1837-1901)

Associated People
Features & Designations

Designations

  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD2460
  • Grade: II

Features

  • Railings
  • Description: The cemetery is divided from the park by railings and a hedge.
  • Hedge
  • Description: A yew hedge forms part of the boundary with the park.
  • Entrance
  • Description: The main entrance to the cemetery lies at the south-west corner of the site.
  • Gate Lodge
  • Description: A red-brick Gothic entrance lodge.
  • Arch
  • Description: A carriage arch at the entrance.
  • Chapel (featured building)
  • Description: The paired, stone lancet chapels are set end-to-end and linked by a porte-cochere with tower. These buildings, by Thomas Jobson Jackson of Bedford, form the focus of the design.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Religious, Ritual And Funerary Features
  • Description: A stone crematorium stands north of the chapels.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Specimen Tree
  • Description: A range of specimen trees and shrubs, predominantly evergreens.
Key Information

Type

Cemetery

Purpose

Cemetery

Principal Building

Cemetery

Period

Victorian (1837-1901)

Survival

Extant

Hectares

14

Open to the public

Yes

References

References