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‘The old cemetery is beautiful, I hope people will say the same about this’ - Dereham celebrates opening of a new cemetery

PUBLISHED: 15:29 19 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:35 19 April 2018

Dereham Cemetery on Norwich Road. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham Cemetery on Norwich Road. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A Norfolk market town has celebrated the opening of a new cemetery after almost ten years of planning.

The new Dereham Cemetery was opened by Robert Hambidge. Picture: Ian BurtThe new Dereham Cemetery was opened by Robert Hambidge. Picture: Ian Burt

The cemetery on Norwich road in Dereham was officially opened on Thursday, after town councillors had identified an urgent need for more burial space.

During the opening ceremony, Dereham Town Councillor Robert Hambidge said that since he had been made chair of the social and welfare committee he had been concerned that the older cemetery had been operating at close to maximum capacity.

“Realising this, the council felt that Dereham should not be a town which could not offer space for burial for its citizens and set about the job of looking for land for a new cemetery,” he said in a speech.

“Identifying land for a new cemetery is not a straight forward process, not all land is suitable, but through a careful selection process and negations the land we are standing on was purchased by the town council.”

The new Dereham Cemetery was opened by Robert Hambidge. Picture: Ian BurtThe new Dereham Cemetery was opened by Robert Hambidge. Picture: Ian Burt

He said that the town council’s goal was to create a cemetery that would be considered a “beautiful meadow” and benefit future generations in Dereham.

“Some people say to me that cemeteries are not a good use of land but I say, look at the old cemetery on cemetery road - what would you rather have there a cemetery or houses,” he said.

“The old cemetery is a beautiful calm space in the centre of an increasingly urban environment – because of its beauty, it is difficult to comprehend not having that cemetery. I hope that in years to come people will be saying the same about this cemetery.”

To fulfil the council’s ambitions they turned to Norfolk company, Jeremy Stacey Architects who set out a plan which would stand apart from the Victorian style cemetery that already exists in the town.

Architect Rhona Fleming speaking at the opening of the new Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian BurtArchitect Rhona Fleming speaking at the opening of the new Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt

Architect Rhona Fleming said their artistic approach was based on the structure of a leaf.

“This first loop of road may seem rather arbitrary but it is the first section of the leaf that will eventually be extended right up to the end of the field. It can be appreciated from the air, perhaps most clearly by the souls who will rest here,” she said.

The architects also put thought into the approach and created a series of mounds linked by 130 birch trees. Ms Fleming said this design shows people passing by that there is “something significant beyond”.

The official opening of the new Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian BurtThe official opening of the new Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt

The official opening of the new Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian BurtThe official opening of the new Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt

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