We are grateful to Rhoda for being the Zoom host on 7 April, when 14 members joined in the virtual meeting.
We enjoyed a presentation by Margaret Hersee, representing The Friends of Spital Cemetery. The cemetery was constructed off Hady Hill in response to a lack of burial space following the large increase in the local population and was consecrated in August 1857, at the same time as our Newbold church. It was planned to be a place of recreation, with a network of paths, trees and gardens, as this was before public parks had been introduced.
Areas were allocated for Anglicans (the largest), Roman Catholics, Nonconformists and a common ground for others. The cemetery was also divided by class, with those who were considered the more important people, with larger monuments, being buried at the top of the hill and more basic tributes at the bottom. Sixteen mayors of Chesterfield are buried in the upper Anglican area. The Roman Catholic zone does not contain many visible items as it has many labourers buried there and stones could not be afforded for them. The largest individual family area is that of the Eyre family. The Nonconformist area has more of a garden look and includes the graves of the well-known Robinson family. There are two chapels, linked together in one building, one Anglican and the other Nonconformist. They were used until the 1980’s but have recently been purchased by a private buyer. The cemetery is still in use for burials.
In 2018 a Garden of Remembrance was made, to remember the dead of the first World War. There are a number of war
graves throughout, but only one Victoria Cross recipient, William Coffey, who earned the VC in the Crimean War and died in 1845. Altogether, the churchyard is a reflection of the social history of Chesterfield in the period since its construction, with many interesting occupants.
The Friends of Spital Cemetery group exists to promote remembrance, heritage and learning in the community and to create a haven for wildlife. They assist with maintenance and monitoring wildlife and conduct tours of the cemetery in normal times.
Our next meeting is on Wednesday, 5 May, at 7pm on Zoom, when we will have a presentation by David Rawsden, who will talk about the Climate and Ecological Crisis, an important topical issue for us all.
The Zoom link will be sent in advance as a reminder.
Please contact me if you have any queries or suggestions.
Trish Law, Committee Member Tel: 450407