Berkhamsted's Rectory Lane Cemetery wins two Landscape Institute awards

‘Desperately needed' rewilding projects championed at Landscape Institute's awards

Monday, 6th December 2021, 9:54 am
Updated Monday, 6th December 2021, 9:57 am

The team at Rectory Lane Cemetery in Berkhamsted were celebrating again as they received two awards from The Landscape Institute, the chartered body for the landscape profession.

The cemetery team won in two categories - Excellence in Culture and Heritage and Excellence in Community Engagement. The awards were presented at a virtual event honouring both UK and international projects at the forefront of landscape design.

The project has been recognised by the Landscape Institute (LI) – the chartered body for the landscape profession whose aim is to protect, conserve and enhance the natural and built environment for the public benefit, through the work of its members.

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Volunteers tend the grounds

In one week, the team at Rectory Lane Cemetery received three awards, recognising its inspired approach to community involvement, heritage, and team work.

On Tuesday, November 23, the project’s volunteers were named joint Team of the Year at the Green Flag 25th Anniversary Awards – a special online ceremony to acknowledge the volunteers and employees who care for the UK’s green parks and spaces.

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Berkhamsted’s Rectory Lane Cemetery wins Team of the Year award

Through a huge volunteer-led restoration effort it has been transformed from a ‘dead space’ of the town into a garden of commemoration, wildlife haven and outdoor venue for arts and events.

The cemetery is proving to be a beautiful setting for live performances

Dr James Moir, project manager of the Rectory Lane Cemetery Project, said: “We began as a small group of volunteers faced with the task of rescuing what was an unloved, and long-neglected burial ground.

“To receive this trio of prestigious awards and to be ranked amongst the best examples of contemporary landscape design shows how far we have come from those beginnings.”

At the Landscape Institute, the Judges 'were unified in their deep appreciation of the project…The sense of empowering people and enabling agency was palpable and clearly this site is intended as a place where everyone feels a sense of belonging and a connection.'

Kate Campbell, community engagement officer and ranger, said: “We would not be at this point without the love and time people have poured into this project.

“This achievement is all down to our dedicated team – particularly our landscape architect Edd Snell of Above Zero, alongside Will Jackson and his small team, all local to Berkhamsted, who carried out the landscaping works with such dedication and skill, and the many specialists who repaired memorials, re-built collapsed walls, righted the toppling gate piers and Memorial Arch as part of the conservation works.

"Furthermore, none of this would be possible without the wider community who have supported and shaped our vision for what the cemetery could be.

"More and more individuals are breathing life to this landscape: our grave gardeners, habitat builders, school children, artists, performers, and tour guides continue to help us see the fascinating history and natural beauties of this place. We thank each and every one of them.”

Landscape Institute President Jane Findlay said: “The world is beginning to pay attention to the important work champions of this industry are doing.

“The awards this year combat issues that have arisen from the pandemic, such as vacant buildings and mental wellbeing.

"Nearly every project also includes some form of rewilding, which we so desperately need to address the current biodiversity crisis.

"These projects should be used as shining examples of what should be common practice across all landscape projects moving forward.”

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

If you would like to be involved in the continuing care and maintenance of this special place through volunteering contact: [email protected].