Cemetery Wardens

God’s acres to be saved… How many people reading this have enjoyed a contemplative walk around a burial ground?

Church graveyards and municipal cemeteries are a window into the past. They are often one of the last remaining habitats of rare wildflowers including orchids. An array of bird, bat and insect life can be found. Butterflies are known to benefit from the ivy and long meadow grasses. Venerable majestic trees such as oak and yew and beech can be seen. Add to the array of native wildlife the social and local history that can be gleaned from the headstones it is no wonder that many people are fascinated by these places. A place of death and remembrance and a space for heritage and wildlife.

The Footprint Trust launched its Cemetery Warden scheme in 2010 at All Saints Church in Freshwater, Isle of Wight. The project, which covers the whole island, has been made possible thanks to support from Heritage Lottery funded West Wight Landscape Partnership.

Those wishing to train and become Cemetery Wardens will have an interest in nature conservation, the landscape, heritage and the community – as this scheme intends to seek to bring together these diverse concerns.

Cemetery Wardens will act as ambassadors for burial grounds, seeking to inform, educate and involve the local community and working with the owners of the site. They will work with other interested individuals and groups to assist in looking after the local burial ground. Information will be given on obtain funding and the Trust will give ongoing support to the trained wardens. This scheme covers all burial grounds, including municipal cemeteries and churchyards, subject to the owner’s permission.

The scheme welcomes people of all faiths, or none, to take part in this ongoing project. All those completing this free training course will be volunteers of the Footprint Trust and insured by them. The scheme will work with other groups that have an interest in ecology, heritage and conservation.

If you have an interest in burial grounds please contact the Footprint Trust for more details or find the leaflet in your local library. You can print our Cemetery Warden application form here. info@footprint-trust.co.uk Tel; 01983 82-22-82.

Grave Issues – the newsletter of the Isle of Wight Cemetery Wardens

Useful Links

Memorials and Monuments on the Isle of Wight

This website describes the majority of the War memorials, and many of the other public and civic memorials to be found on the Isle of Wight

Monumental Inscriptions and Burial Indexes

Monumental Inscriptions (both inside and outside the Churches) and Burial Indexes for the Cemeteries and Churchyards of the Isle of Wight compiled by IW Family History Society. Please contact them for more information.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission pays tribute to the 1,700,000 men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars. Their database can be searched here.

Caring for God’s Acre is a UK charity which aims to inspire and support local communities to care for churchyards and burial grounds in a way which benefits both people and wildlife.

War Memorials Trust works for the protection and conservation of war memorials in the UK. They provide advice and information to anyone as well as running grant schemes for the repair and conservation of war memorials. They have good guidance on the cleaning of memorials.

Researching Family History

If you are researching your family tree here are some tips.

  1. Put together all the information you have. Find out details of ancestors from living relatives. See if they have birth, marriage or death certificates (BMD certs).
  2. Find out locations of burials of your ancestors and find their grave – but do be prepared to be disappointed. Burial records are often inaccurate, memorials removed or damaged and graveyards overgrown. Take a camera with you and record what you find. Do NOT clean a memorial with anything other than water. Soap and cleaning chemicals can damage memorials.
  3. If you know the approx birth date of, say your great grandfather, then you can search for him on ancestry.co.uk and then order his birth certificate.
  4. Once you have BMD certificates you can discover who their parents or spouses were and so on.