Walkley Cemetery Sheffield - 16th July 1880

In the course of researching my and my wife's family tree we somewhat surprisingly found that quite a few of our ancestors at St Mary's Church of England Cemetery at St Mary's, Walkley, Sheffield. Although we were both born in Sheffield, we had no idea that so many of our ancestors lived in the Crookes - Walkley - Hillsborough area of Sheffield.

In May 2003, a local historian posted the following account of the opening of the Cemetery to a family history mailing list.

" I thought I would take the opportunity to post this account of the consecration of a C of E Parochial cemetery. As I will explain in another message (see below), I am interested in finding out more about the members of the church in Walkley, mentioned here, and also more about people buried in the cemetery.

Sheffield and Rotherham Independent 17 Jul 1880 page 2 column e



The burial ground which was opened in May last for interments for the parish of St. Mary's, Walkley, was consecrated yesterday, by his Grace the Archbishop of York. The graveyard contains three acres and a rood, and is situated at Walkley lane, in close proximity to the St. Vincent's (Roman Catholic) Cemetery and the Jews'burial ground. A mortuary chapel has been erected, and since the cemetery was opened the furnishing has been completed. Mr. Clague has borne the cost of the furniture, which is of a neat description, and the reading desk and cushion have been contributed by the Rev. R.Waltham (curate of Walkley) and Miss Waltham. A plan, showing the position and number of every grave made and to be made in the ground, has been prepared by Messrs. Fowler and Son, surveyors. There will be three classes of graves. A first class grave will cost 5. 6s. ; second class, 2. 13s. ; and for an unpurchased or third class grave the charge will be 17s. The Rev. T. Smith, vicar of Walkley, and the chaplain of the new cemetery, has resolved to make no distinction between parishioners and non-parishioners as to burial fees.

The ceremony of consecration commenced at half-past ten o'clock, at which hour the Archbishop of York, accompanied by the Vicar of Sheffield (the Rev. Canon Blakeney), and the Rev. T.Smith (chaplain of the cemetery), alighted from a carriage at the entrance gates, where his Grace was received by the churchwardens of St. Mary's, Walkley, Mr. Charles and Mr. John Copley. A petition for consecration, duly signed by the incumbent of Walkley Church, the churchwardens, the patron of the living, and the trustees, was presented to the Archbishop, who signified assent. A procession was then formed, headed by the two churchwardens and the registrar (Mr. H.A.Hudson, York). Then came his Grace the Archbishop, preceded by the apparitor carrying the mace, and followed by the clergy in order as given: Rev. G.Sandford, Rev. B.B.Slater, Rev. T.Wilkins, Rev. A.G.Tweedie, Rev.H.A.Favell, Rev. E.F.Forrest, Rev. C. Clementson, and the Rev. J.A.Bell.The choir of St. Mary's, Walkley, who were under the leadership of Mr.G.R.Webster, the choirmaster, succeeded the clergy. After proceeding round a portion of the graveyard, reading meanwhile Psalm XXIV., the procession halted on the grass opposite the entrance to the chapel, where a table had been placed upon which the sentence of consecration was to be signed. The Archbishop said, "Let the sentence of consecration be now read," and the registrar having complied, his Grace affixed his signature. On the invitation of the Rev. Canon Blakeney the spectators, who by this time had become very numerous, left the gravel walk where they had congregated and came near the table. As soon as the signing of the sentence was ended the Rev. T. Smith announced the hymn beginning "O God, thy grace and blessing give," which was sung by the whole assemblage.

The Archbishop then delivered a brief address, remarking that although it was no part of that ceremony for him to preach a sermon, yet as that was only his second visit to the parish, and as it might be a long time before he was able to visit them again, he should like to ask them to consider why they were there that day. The most important subject for all people to solemnly bear in mind was the certainty of death, for whatever else might come into doubt, nobody had the
slightest doubt but that they would one day have to be laid under the green sward of that or some other cemetery, and that, too, in a very few years. The more they looked upon this certainty of death, the more evident became the necessity of their preparing for the important event. It might be a long time before they could realise that Heaven was not in the distance. But nearness to God was nearness to Heaven, and when a man became a believer he stepped on to the threshold of Heaven directly. In conclusion, his Grace urged the vital importance of that preparation needed to fit man for Heaven, and bade his hearers to think of eternal things and to put less value upon earthly things.

The ceremony was concluded with prayer and the benediction. The Archbishop and clergy then entered the chapel, and having expressed approval of the internal arrangements, they proceeded to Walkley vicarage, where they partook of luncheon. The spectators also entered the chapel, in the windows of which were elegant floral wreaths, the work of Mrs. T.Smith, assisted by Mrs. Charles Copley, Mrs. John Copley, and Mrs. Pickering. Amongst those present during the
consecration ceremony were the Master Cutler (J.B.Jackson, Esq.), Mr. and Mrs. Bradshaw, Broomhall; Mr. W. F[l]ather [?], Mr. E. Knowles Binns, Mr. Edward Brown, Mr. T.J.Brewin, &c.

There have been eleven interments already in the Walkley Cemetery. At ten of these the Rev. T. Smith has been the officiating clergyman, and the Rev. R. Waltham has conducted one of the funerals."

Photo taken 27th June 2006

This account from the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent was posted on a local Family History mailing list by a local historian. In May 2003, he added the following update to the Cemetery.

"As has been mentioned before on this list, the cemetery at Walkley, which is the parochial cemetery for St Mary's Church, Howard Road (C of E) is in a poor state. It is very overgrown in parts and many monuments are completely hidden by brambles, ivy and Japanese knotweed.

The plans of the cemetery held by the church are incomplete and sometimes difficult to interpret. There is no index, apart from the NBI name index for 1880-1901, which does not include grave references.

So, finding individual graves or plots is difficult, to say the least. Now steps are being taken to improve the situation. The new vicar (the Rev Melanie Fitzgerald) and some members of the congregation have begun a program which includes indexing of the burial registers, and attacking the worst of the invasive plants. However, it is an enormous task - the cemetery covers a large area, and the congregation of St Mary's is small.

One way of getting more support will be to hold open days when guided tours of the cemetery can take place (this was recommended by the Friends of the General Cemetery, whose tours are very successful).

To make such events possible we need stories about people and families buried in the cemetery. If your ancestors are buried there (and I know this is true of several members of this list) perhaps you would be willing to share with us a tale of your forebears. Such stories need not be of great deeds or world-shattering events!"

To aid this "enormous task" and a Friends of Walkley Cemetery group was established in order to manage the cemetery for the benefit of local people, including conservation of grave stones and promotion of wild life. If anyone wants further information, please either contact the Church direct, or contact me through my website. It really is a marvellous, and I might add very interesting cemetery, which deserves to be conserved not just for the present but for future generations.

The Friends are a voluntary organisation and welcome practical and monetary contributions to our work.
Donations may be sent to the following address
Friends of Walkley Cemetery, Walkley Vicarage, 150 Walkley Road, Sheffield, S6 2XQ

In late 2011, a blog was initiated by the Friends of Walkley Cemetery so that "they could write about the day-to-day issues of conservation, historical research, and natural history relating to this beautiful, semi-wild cemetery on the slopes of the Rivelin Valley in Sheffield (England). We will also give notice of future events in the cemetery, and other relevant events in the Sheffield area." I can thoroughly recommend the blog.

Photo taken 27th June 2006

This page was last updated on 04/04/14 14:14

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