Dead Space to Living Place

Berkhamsted’s once-neglected cemetery wins Green Flag Community Award 

Rectory Lane Cemetery in Berkhamsted has been awarded a Green Flag Community Award, after a huge volunteer-led restoration project. 

Rectory Lane Cemetery is a free public space, open to all, every day: off the High Street Berkhamsted, HP4 2HQ. Click here for more information.

Rectory Lane public art event

For decades, this Victorian cemetery was an overgrown and forgotten space, its memorials damaged, and its old avenues buried from sight. Now, it has achieved the international mark of quality for green parks and spaces. 

The transformation came about through a Heritage Lottery Funded scheme initiated by the Friends of St Peter’s Church Berkhamsted. It has involved the work of over a hundred volunteers, artists, landscape architects, stone masons and conservationists.  

The result is a beautiful, safe and accessible green haven in the heart of the town.

“We wanted to preserve the 19thcentury features of the site – its precious monuments, and trees, and arch-ways,” says Project Manager James Moir. “But we also wanted to make the cemetery a welcoming place for the local community to come for their physical and mental well-being. The Green Flag judges commended us for giving visitors a meaningful experience and this is of huge importance to us.”

The cemetery contains a new garden of remembrance, scenic accessible pathways and seats for families and friends to meet, and a zone dedicated to wildlife study and education. 

The cemetery also provides a fascinating insight into local history: a team of volunteer genealogists are researching the stories of those who came to rest in the grounds, and offer support to individuals, from across the globe, who are searching for the memorials of family members. 

“The cemetery has become much loved by the people of this town, and its future is a bright one,” says Community Engagement Officer Kate Campbell. “It has also shown itself to be a unique venue for events. We’ve had choirs and poets perform here, school trips, yoga and tai chi classes, nature workshops on everything from bees to compost. We really encourage people to get in touch with us if they would like to hold their event in this beautiful setting. And more importantly, with the Green Flag recognition, we hope that even more members of the community will continue to be inspired to use this place for peace of mind and body.”  The Green Flag Award judge summed up: “This is an exceptionally well thought through, designed and executed community Cemetery restoration that sets a high bar for community engagement and activities.  At the heart is a small team … who are to be congratulated and celebrated for their achievement.”

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Enjoy the Berkhamsted display of old food gadgets!

The mini-display of vintage food gadgets, organised by the Society, opens at The Open Door, Berkhamsted on Tuesday 7th Sept to the 18th.

Try guessing what each item does!  (Before flipping the page for the answers).

Fun and interesting for all  –  including children (and grandchildren)  –   to see a different world.

Dating mainly before the age of electricity, and pre-dating the invention of the food-processor, the hand-cranked 20 items are on exhibition as part of this years Edible England theme of the Heritage Open Days 2021.

Enjoy also the other exhibits on display at The Open Door as part of their Food Glorious Food! event.

Where? The Open Door Community Space, 360 High St, Berkhamsted HP41HU (west end of the town, towards Tring).

When?  7th – 18th Sept 2021, Mondays to Saturdays, 10:30 to 3:30 pm.

Cost?  FREE

Organised by?  The Berkhamsted Local History and Museum Society

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BLH&MS stall Sat 11 Sep 8.30-13:00

We’ll be outside Tesco / Aitchisons with the red dot map of WWI soldiers’ homes in Berkhamsted, so come and see if your house is on it. If so you can read about the soldier who lived there in Men of Berkhamsted: Lest we forget.

BLH&MS market stall

We’ll be selling all the local history new books at greatly reduced prices (£5-10), along with a selection of second hand books (£1-4). Information on our forthcoming talks, Heritage Open Days and some freebies!

If you have any local history queries, pop down and we’ll see if we can help.

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Heritage Open Days 2021

Come and celebrate Berkhamsted’s architecture and culture
at this year’s Heritage Open Days

HOD poster

This year’s HODs will be between 11 and 20 Sep 2021
Click here for HODs 2021 pdf file
Click here for details on HODs website

(look out for the Foundling video on this link from 10 Sep for HODs week)

Update on bookings: The only tours with limited spaces now are:-
Watercress – a thriving industry in Victorian Berkhamsted
Sunday 12 September 10.30am and Thursday 16th September 10,30am
Visit to a working watercress bed –  Sunday 19th September 11.00 -14.00
Online event available all week Berkhamsted  Foundling Hospital – Memories of Childhood. Information available from HODs website (link above).

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Books from Society collection now available online

Thanks to the efforts of Bill Willett in scanning and indexing, we can now view two surveys of the Manor of Berkhamsted from 1607 and 1616 and Sneyd’s History of King Edward VI Grammar School (1842) here

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VE Day anniversary film

From the East Anglian Film Archive on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of VE Day, here is a 10-minute compilation film offering a snapshot of life on the home front during World War II, which is now available to watch here


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BLH&MS talk and AGM postponed

BLH&MS talk and AGM on 25 Mar 2020 is postponed due to Coronavirus. Stay safe and we hope to see you in Sep 2020. Meanwhile, life’s better by water and here’s Castle Street bridge: Alford’s timber yard on the left, Crystal Palace pub on the right…

Castle Street bridge_bk2359

Castle Street bridge

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Battlefields Trust Training Day 25 Mar

The Battlefields Trust in conjunction with the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers and Historic England are running a battlefield heritage training day on 25 March 2020 at the National Civil War Centre in Newark.

The day is primarily aimed at those responsible for the management of battlefield heritage in local and national government, such as archaeologists, conservation officers and planning advisors. The training provides an introduction to some of the challenges, opportunities and approaches associated with battlefield heritage.

Free tickets for such professionals have now all been allocated, but there are some tickets remaining that the Trust can make available to members of the Battlefields Trust and other interested individuals on a paid for basis. Places are still available to book for the training day.

Battle of Stoke Field

Battle of Stoke Field (1487)

Tickets cost £20 for Battlefields Trust members and £35 for non-members, including a sandwich lunch and teas and coffees and can be obtained from Eventbrite

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The Railway Comes to Tring

BLH&MS talk on 19 Feb 2020

The Railway Comes to Tring, by Ian Petticrew.

The talk looks (in brief) at how the London & Birmingham Railway came to be built: the route as originally proposed – and as eventually constructed; civil engineering along the line from Euston to Tring; early train services and the Railway’s impact on stage coach services, the Sparrows Herne Turnpike and the canal.

Tring railway cutting_BK704

Tring Railway Cutting

Meeting begins at 8pm in the Wellcome Great Hall, Town Hall, Berkhamsted. Visitors are always welcome @ £3 at the door.

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Battlefields Trust Study Day

It’s 2020 and you’re warmly invited to our East Anglia Regional Study Day! This is our fourth one and it’s on Saturday 29 February 2020 at the Cedars Hotel, Stowmarket, Suffolk, IP14 2AJ starting at 10.30 am with coffee/tea available from 10.00.

Our speakers include Dr Sophie Thérèse Ambler (FRHistS, FHEA Lecturer in Later Medieval British and European History at Lancaster University) who will be talking to us on Simon de Montfort and the Battle of Evesham (1265).

We are very pleased to welcome back Dr Harry Sidebottom, author of the Warrior of Rome novels and Fellow and Director of Studies in Ancient History at St Benets Hall, and Lecturer in Ancient History at Lincoln College, who will be talking on the Late Roman Army and the East Anglia Saxon Shore forts.

And for those of you who missed our study day on the Battle of Fornham Dr James Barnaby has very kindly agreed to talk to us about the Campaign of 1173 building up to the actual battle. And as ever Trust Development Officer Julian Humphrys will be with us, to talk on the work he’s been doing around the Battle of Hastings, and answer questions on the work of the Trust.

We also want to take this opportunity to seek members’ views on future Trust activities in East Anglia.

Price: £32 to include a buffet lunch and tea/coffee. (Life members £25).

Please contact David Austin for a booking form.
Here is a link to the Cedars’ website

We really look forward to seeing you there.

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