An Exquisite Place in York To Rest In Peace?
One of only two privately owned Victorian cemeteries in the UK today, York Cemetery dates back to 1837. Far from being a sad place where people come to mourn the dead, it is an oasis of peaceful serenity and quite unique beauty. Here the old sits alongside the new and wild plants and shrubs rub shoulders with beautifully manicured lawns and flower beds.
In parts, nature is almost reclaiming its own as ivy creeps up and over beautifully carved and weathered gravestones. It is a mosaic of different areas within which one will find a section where angels watch over their charges, a herb garden where fresh herbs freely grow within the kerbs of the graves, a scented walk – specially planted with perfumed plants, butterfly walk – as the name suggests planted with shrubs to which butterflies are attracted, Soldiers Lawn, Belle Vue Terrace, Felicity Gate Wall and, of course, Emerson’s Lawn all have been named with special meaning.
It hasn’t always been so well-cared-for as it is today, however. In 1966 it entered a period of voluntary liquidation, it wasn’t until 1984 when York Cemetery Trust bought the cemetery for a nominal sum that the restoration work still taking place today began. The following is an excerpt from “Reflections”, written by and reproduced by the kind permission of Richard Keesing, Chairman of York Cemetery Trust, which is his personal account of what he found when he “discovered” the cemetery for the first time.