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The History of Carlisle Cemetery.

Cemetery picture 2Carlisle cemetery was opened in 1855 on high ground called Spital Moor on the then outskirts of Carlisle. The land was chosen because it drained well and could be excavated to six feet.

The Cemetery created a dramatic change in local funeral arrangements and helped to improve local health and the environment (helping to eradicate cholera and typhoid). It also provided a central social point for the bereaved and the general public.

The Cemetery was designed and laid out on the principles of Loudon, a famous landscape architect. These suggested that cemeteries should be open, well laid out with trees and shrubs and that the buildings and memorials should display fine architecture and design.

Overall, cemeteries were seen as places to enliven the spirit and not as places of morbidity and depression. Carlisle cemetery certainly meets these requirements, and has received many recent awards including Cemetery of the Year in 1998, 2006 and 2007.  Cumbria Business Environment Network Silver Award for recognition of progress in assessment and control of environmental practice 2007 and Cumbria Biodiversity Award 2007 both for the layout, maintenance and quality of service.

Carlisle Cemetery contains in excess of 100,000 burials set out in 22 wards. The cemetery was extended prior to the First World War and again in the 1950’s and more recently with the Woodland burial.

Each of the wards varies due to age, ward one being the oldest and the start of the Old Ground, where in the mid 1990’s large grass areas were transformed into conservation zones or "Living Churchyards" where techniques to improve environmental management have been developed.  These techniques have seen the re-appearance of owls, butterflies and many wild and unusual flowers and plants. 

In the early years of the Cemetery 1,060 yew trees (Taxus bacatta) were planted, many of the to form topiary trees along the main drive.   These yews still exist to this day and are trimmed annually and the clippings sold to pharmaceutical companies to create anti cancer drugs.

Woodland at the CemeteryThe Crematorium and grounds were opened on September 26th 1956.  The grounds were mainly laid out to lawn and a few shrubberies.  In the early 1980’s the gardens were transformed and laid out as wooded areas; The Months of the Year Memorial Gardens and the larger Peace Garden.

The Woodland Burial was the first site of its kind.  Opened in 1993 it provides an alternative burial option where graves are located in a woodland setting.   Instead of head stones, families are asked to plant native trees, English oak (Quercus sp) Hazel (Corylus avellana), Holly (Ilex aquifolium) and Scots Pines (Pinus sylvestris). 

This purpose of this is to encourage wildlife to the cemetery, particularly the endangered Red Squirrel (Scurius vulgaris).

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Carlisle City Council
Civic Centre, Carlisle, Cumbria,