The Friends of Havant Cemeteries
Speaker: Penny Munday
Date: 26th February
Penny began by giving us a short résumé of the history of New Lane/Eastern Road cemetery.
The cemetery land was gifted to Havant by Sir George Staunton in 1850 when St Faith’s Churchyard became full and was declared “closed”. One acre of the land was for Church of England burials and a quarter of an acre for Dissenters.
Penny showed us some historical maps of the area going back to the 1850s. A mortuary chapel was built for Church of England burials and together with the additional burial ground was consecrated by the Bishop of Winchester on 31st July 1851.
The first burial took place on 29th August 1851. By 1895 the cemetery had become full and more land was required, 0.73 hectares of the adjacent “Stone’s” allotments was exchanged for a similar area further north so that the cemetery could be extended.
William Stone, MP for Havant and who had taken over from Sir George Staunton donated this new part, he had previously donated the land for the allotments. Edward Till, a volunteer fireman was buried in the new section on 31st July 1896 and was driven to the cemetery on a fire engine drawn by two black horses.
By 1897 a non-conformists chapel had been built on the new area. Both chapels have now disappeared but their sites are known, located by “dowsing”.
In 2007 a Holocaust Memorial was built on the central area of the “new” cemetery and a service is held on Holocaust Memorial Day annually. The cemetery became full in 1976 but burials can still take place in some grave spaces.
The Friends project aims to conserve, enhance and discover the natural and social history contained within Havant borough cemeteries. The project was started by Councillor Ralph Cousins in 2010/11, and with the help of a Heritage Lottery Grant, the Conservation Volunteers (TCV) undertook the training of the group for the first two years in conservation techniques, and the Friends group was officially inaugurated in 2014 with a committee and constitution.
The Friends carry out maintenance and make decisions for example on whether to spray weeds or remove ivy, and clear brambles. Heavy clearance work is done by Norse South East contractors.
The Friends applied for Heritage Lottery Grant and were successful following a long and complicated process involving the community. They were awarded £10,000 which was used to produce two information boards and leaflets, a bench and new wrought iron gates made by local artisan blacksmith Peter Clutterbuck. A brick entrance pillar had to be replaced in 2017 due to a hit and run accident. They were unable to spend the last £100.00!
Penny then listed some of the cemeteries trees, flowers and wildlife which included Irish Yews, a Red Cedar, Crab Apples, a Prunus Pissardi and a Duke of Argyll’s Tea Plant. Flowers include Meadow Cranesbill, Self Heal, Yellow Rattle and the well known spring flowers. Wildlife included “The Beast of Hayling?”, Wasp Spider, and Cinnabar Moth.
Some notable burials were mentioned and WWII war graves including civilians.
Penny finished her very interesting talk with a couple of threats to the biodiversity of this haven for wildlife, namely light pollution – no bats, and 5G cell towers which possibly affect bees.
The Cemetery in 1907
- The Havant Cemeteries at New Lane and Eastern Road by Ralph Cousins
- Havant Dissenter’s Cemetery New Lane – A brief History and Record of Burials by Gillian M Peskett