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

The Green Flag Community Award is the benchmark for parks and green spaces which are managed by volunteers

Friday, 15th October 2021, 10:56 am

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

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 Green Flag Community Award is the benchmark for parks and green spaces which are managed by volunteers.

Rectory Lane Cemetery

The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of green spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

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

Project Manager James Moir said: “We wanted to preserve the 19thcentury features of the site – its precious monuments, and trees, and arch-ways.

The cemetery has become a much loved place for the town

“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.

Younger visitors at the cemetery

Community Engagement Officer Kate Campbell said: "The cemetery has become much loved by the people of this town, and its future is a bright one.

"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.”

Rectory Lane Cemetery, off the High Street, is a free public space, open to all, every day.

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. “