“Excellence does not do them justice”: Berkhamsted’s Rectory Lane Cemetery commended in Green Flag A
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Once a neglected space in Berkhamsted, the cemetery was transformed through a volunteer-led restoration project into an accessible and beautiful garden of commemoration, re-opening to the public in its new form in 2020.
Since then, it has become a much-loved green space that allows the community to connect with each other, with nature and their local heritage.
As the Green Flag Judge states in their report: “This is an extremely professionally run site with local volunteers which has produced one of the best sites I have judged in many years.” The Judge goes on to say that the cemetery “is a model for other community run sites to look at and use to enhance their own.”
This year biodiversity has been a particular focus for the cemetery team. Three ponds have been built into the wildlife area, where you can find damselflies and newts, and wildflower habitats are being carefully developed for butterflies, bees and other pollinators.
“But we are also here for the people of Berkhamsted,” explains Ranger Kate Campbell. “Recently young members of the Swan Youth Project met with our volunteer bee-keeper and were able to taste honey fresh from the hives – a really memorable experience. This summer we serve as an outdoor venue for a theatre production by The Shakespeare Circus, a Books in the Woods and EenyMeeny Music playgroup, and WildStrong movement classes. The cemetery is very much a space for the community made by the community.”
Volunteers play a huge role in ensuring that the cemetery is a sustainable and welcoming place - organising educational visits from local schools, carrying out nature surveys, and tending to the memorials and wider grounds.
Kate Campbell adds: “Many of our volunteers find helping at the cemetery a deeply enriching and rewarding experience. For anyone who feels inspired after reading about our latest award, we invite you to join our team. Maybe you are mad about compost, or would like to try your hand at genealogy, or have a wonderful idea for a nature or heritage event. Please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.”