The Rosary Cemetery - A quiet haven in the heart of Norwich
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
It is a rare place of timeless beauty and remembrance. The garden cemetery which opened almost 200 years ago. This is The Rosary in Thorpe Hamlet, Norwich.
A peaceful haven where the rich and the poor, the old and young, are laid to rest. Every headstone and memorial has a story to tell… and the flora and fauna all set the scene.
There really is nowhere else quite like The Rosary and now a new guide has just been written and published by the Friends of the Rosary who continue to do such important work.
The Rosary was established by the Rev Thomas Drummond, right. It was not only the first non-denominational cemetery in England, it was also the first landscaped, rural or garden cemetery.
In 2005 the Friends published The Rosary Cemetery – A Place of Decent Interment. It was a brief history which contained a number of potted biographies of those buried there.
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This new book includes the fruits of further research, a fuller history, more on the founder, the nature, and chapters on the military and railway personnel who are buried there in such large numbers.
And there is a foreword by Melanie Winterbotham, the great, great, great, granddaughter of Thomas Drummond.
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“How satisfied would Thomas and Ann Drummond be that the Rosary finally became the fulfilment of their dream; how gratified that it is still a place of rest for so many, and how delighted that is nurturing wildlife,” she says.
Thomas was a radical minister who wanted electoral reform, and spoke about how important it was to combat poverty, reduce taxes and provide workers with smallholdings.
“Above all,” said Melanie, “he wanted everyone to have access to education; everyone included women and girls.”
He supported the Mechanics Institution providing evening education to manual workers urging the inclusion of women in the audience and as speakers.
His sense of injustice led him to work with a missionary zeal to establish a burial ground for every denomination and none. He and his family had a rocky ride; he invested everything and lost everything,
Except the Rosary itself, which is his wonderful memorial.
“On behalf of Thomas and Ann’s family, I would like to thank the Friends of the Rosary for continuing the ethos of the burial ground, and keeping their dream alive,” writes Melanie.
In June of 1821 Thomas registered the Rosary burial ground with the Bishop of Norwich. This new guide celebrates that and sheds more light on this unique treasure which is a window into the history of the City of Norwich.
The Friends were originally formed to campaign against the laying flat and clearing of headstones in the early 1980s. A time when both the Eastern Daily Press and the Evening News and many others asked for a controversial plan to “improve” The Rosary to be scrapped.
They were re-established in late 1999 to help with the maintenance of the cemetery and since then much has been done to care for this wonderful place. A combination of their activities with Norwich City Council Grounds Management team and the Trust for Conservation Volunteers proved so successful that the Friends won Norfolk’s 2008 Community Biodiversity Award.
The guide illustrates their work so well and will be loved by anyone interested in the history of the city, county and its people.
Extensive species surveys have also been carried out by both the Friends and Norfolk Wildlife Trust into the tree and plant life; birds and mammals, moths and butterflies and insect life in general.
As an area the Rosary continues to develop its biodiversity, welcoming an ever increasing population to admire the riches at The Rosary.
A Guide to the Rosary Cemetery, printed by Gowise Print of Norwich, is on sale at Jarrold and in the City Book Shop in Davey Place at £8.50. The book is also available from Nick Williams and it can be posted to you for £10 or Nick can deliver it to addresses in the Norwich area. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Norwich (01603) 438766.