At the sign of the Barking lion...

Cemetery chapel, Bury St Edmunds

At the sign of the Barking lion...

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Bury Cemetery chapel

Bury Cemetery chapel Bury Cemetery

I love wandering around 19th Century municipal cemeteries, with their secretive corners and lost worthies waiting to be rediscovered. But of all East Anglian cemeteries, Bury St Edmunds is perhaps the least atmospheric and exciting, and not just because of the obvious contrast with the lovely old burial ground between St Mary's church and the Cathedral in the centre of the town. Perhaps it is to do with how flat and domesticated it is - the headstones seem as if they are an intrusion in an otherwise polite public park.

The cemetery chapel was the 1855 work of local architects Cooper & Peck, who were also responsible for the grand lodge house. The chapel is finished in coursed flint, the lodge in a more crazed style. It appears that there was only ever one chapel instead of the two you usually find, one for Anglicans and one for non-conformists. Probably the many chapels of busy non-conformist Bury were considered perfectly adequate to provide services for their dead who were then carried out to the cemetery along Kings Road.

The chapel is oriented south-north, with the entrance at the south end and vestigial transepts to east and west. A perky little spire with oversize lucarnes, looking most un-East Anglian, pokes up in the angle to the south of the east transept. The west transept is boarded up, and the chapel appears to be no longer in use. The modern burial area is in any case way, way to the south on Hospital Road with its own entrance.

As you leave, look up on the side of Cooper & Peck's lodge beside the gate on Kings Road and you can see the original bell which would be rung for entrance to the cemetery, stil in situ after 150 years.


Simon Knott, August 2015

fallen crown in loving union



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