The Rosary Cemetery

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Text © Copyright Evelyn Simak, June 2019
Images are under a separate Creative Commons Licence.


History


1905 map of the Rosary before the extension was added

 Rosary 1905

The main entrance to this Grade II* listed cemetery is on Rosary Road. A gate provides access (for pedestrians only) from Telegraph Lane East (named after the Admiralty telegraph station situated near the water tower at the top of the lane in Thorpe St Andrews).

The first OS map (surveyed 1880/83, published 1886) records three OS benchmarks in the cemetery: by the NE corner of the boundary wall (105.5); by the SE corner of the boundary wall (138.8), and on the SE corner of the cemetery lodge by the entrance (60.5). The cemetery also had a well, dating from before 1878. According to the record held at the National Geoscience Data Centre ((161/p9), water was struck at about 30 metres, through layers of brick earth, sand and gravel, and chalk. The well would seem to have been sealed a long time ago. It was situated at TG 2440 0846 (near the north-south path separating Sections F and G).

TG2408 : The former Rosary Cemetery Office by Evelyn Simak
The driveway up to the cemetery from Rosary Road leads past it. The Grade 2 listed cemetery lodge and office is built of gault brick under a slate roof in the Tudor-Gothic style and was erected in 1860 by the then Norwich city architect JS Benest. The building is of a single storey with attics and has mullion windows, and bears the inscription 'Rosary Cemetery Office' on a stone set in the south-west gable end facing the road.
by Evelyn Simak
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TG2408 : The burial chapel in Rosary Cemetery by Evelyn Simak
This Grade 2 listed burial or mortuary chapel was built in the Gothic Revival style. It comprises a two-bay nave and chancel with a south porch surmounted by a belfry. It was designed by the Norwich architect Edward Boardman in 1879 and includes a re-set tablet bearing the inscription 'The Rosary burial ground for persons of all denomination registered at the office of the lord Bishop of Norwich June 14th 1821' > LinkExternal link.
by Evelyn Simak
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TG2408 : Boundary stone in Rosary Cemetery by Evelyn Simak
It is incorporated into the brick boundary wall > LinkExternal link.
by Evelyn Simak
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The Rosary was the first non-denominational cemetery in the UK and also the earliest garden cemetery in England. It was established in 1819 by Thomas Drummond > LinkExternal link a nonconformist minister. Claims according to which the Rosary is predated by the no longer existing Dissenters' cemetery in Rusholme Road, Manchester, are incorrect. The records confirm that the latter was opened in 1821, two years after the Rosary, although the first burial in the Rosary did indeed take place in 1821. On 7 April 1824, the Norfolk Chronicle reports that it was agreed "that the Rosary burial-ground having been duly entered at the office of the Bishop of the Diocese, and therein designated a general burial-ground for the use of persons of all sects and denominations, shall be invested in trustees on behalf of those who may become the holders of shares, to be limited to 500." The area of land comprising the Rosary - situated at the western end of the Thorpe Ridge and falling gently from north to east and south to west, with a more dramatic, terraced cross slope in the southern section descending from the high ground in the south-east towards the chapel - had formerly been in use as a market garden, and presents a broad green open space between the housing areas to the south and the playing fields of the Telegraph Lane schools to the north. The writer Geoffrey Goreham in 'Norwich Heritage' (1977) wrote "In Rosary Cemetery stone monuments straggle up the slope amongst forest trees and waning sunlight casts long shadows of urns, obelisks and crosses on the maze of winding footpaths", and this is still the case today.

TG2408 : Memorial for Beryl Cushion - angel by Evelyn Simak
The memorial was created by JR Childs, stone and marble masons at Chapelfield and monumental masons at Rose Lane. For a wider view and some information see > LinkExternal link
by Evelyn Simak
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TG2408 : The grave of the Roll Family by Evelyn Simak
The very weathered and unusually wide stone with the largely illegible inscription marks the grave of the Roll Family.
by Evelyn Simak
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TG2408 : Bluebells growing on the terraces by Evelyn Simak
Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are also called wild hyacinths and can be found growing in wooded areas. The plants flower between April and June. The flowers are commonly a characteristic blue but there are plants which produce white or pink flowers. Most of the bluebells in the Rosary are not of the native variety.
by Evelyn Simak
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TG2408 : Graves in cow parsley by Evelyn Simak
In Section C of the Rosary Cemetery.
by Evelyn Simak
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TG2408 : The Colman Family plot - cross detail by Evelyn Simak
For a full view of this cross and some information see > LinkExternal link.
by Evelyn Simak
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TG2408 : Gravestone surrounded by cow parsley by Evelyn Simak
The stone marks the grave of Charles Simpson who died on 17 April 1871, aged 24. His mother, Mary Ann Simpson (d 3 Jan 1874, aged 49) is also buried here.
by Evelyn Simak
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TG2408 : The grave of George Thomas Holdom by Evelyn Simak
The stone in the foreground at left marks the grave of George Thomas Holdom (d 2 Aug 1895, aged 50) and his wife Emma Elizabeth (d 21 Mar 1921, aged 63). Their youngest son Frank Edgar Holdom, L/Cpl 6th LDN F Ambulance, who was killed in action on 21 September 1916, aged 22, is commemorated on the stone. He is interred at the British Cemetery at Flatiron Copse, about 10 kilometres east of Albert on the Somme, France.
by Evelyn Simak
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Tragically, the first interment at the Rosary was the re-interment of Drummond's wife Ann, who had died in childbirth, aged 41, two years previously and was intitially buried in the small burial ground adjacent to the Octagon Chapel > LinkExternal link. The Rosary has a number of literary links. The novelist Ralph Hale Mottram, for instance, is buried here (H 2/1391). He was Lord Mayor of Norwich and also the last chairman of the trustees of the cemetery before it was entrusted to Norwich Corporation in 1956. A number of Norwich School painters are also buried in the Rosary, as are a number of railway employees such as the train driver John Prior and the fireman James Light, both killed in the disastrous 1874 Thorpe rail accident. A great number of interesting gravestones and memorials, such as the cast iron sarcophaus of Jeremiah Cozens (E 714/716/717) and made by Thomas Dixon's foundry in Norwich, can be found on the 13 acres (53,000 square metres) of the cemetery. Thomas Dixon too is buried in the Rosary (A 129/131). The only mausoleum in the cemetery is that of the eye surgeon Dr Emanuel Cooper (K 1589/1590). The mortuary chapel was constructed in 1879, replacing an older building, and is said to be the finest work of the Norwich architect Edward Boardman, who is buried in Section H (1311-1316).

Norwich Heritage have a record according to which the large crowds of people visiting the Rosary in the summer of 1880 led to the employment of a policeman.

An extension adjacent to the old part (referred to as the lower cemetery) in the north-east and bounded by Telegraph Lane East was opened in 1924, on land formerly owned by Isaac Coaks and for some time used to graze the horses from the nearby Cavalry Barracks. This new part or upper cemetery was laid out following the advice received from Captain Sandys-Winsch, the then head of the council parks department and the designer of Eaton Park, Wensum Park, Waterloo Park, and Heigham Park, all in Norwich. The Rosary came under the control of the Norwich Corporation in 1954 and it is estimated that about 18,500 people have been buried there since 1821.

TG2408 : Graves in Rosary Cemetery by Evelyn Simak
This is the new part of the cemetery which was opened in 1924.
by Evelyn Simak
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TG2408 : View across Sections X and Y by Evelyn Simak
As seen from the edge of Section R, in the new part of Rosary Cemetery.
by Evelyn Simak
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TG2408 : Plaque commemorating Frank Payne by Evelyn Simak
Frank Payne (1836-1983) was for many years a gardener in the Rosary Cemetery. For a view of the oak tree dedicated in his memory see > LinkExternal link.
by Evelyn Simak
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To anyone interested in symbols and carvings on gravestones and monuments the Rosary offers a rich field of study. The Victorians had a particular preoccupation with death: many houses of the period had a 'coffin corner', a niche cut into the stairwell so that the coffin could make the turn in the flight of stairs, and some houses had a showcase window, where the deceased could lie in state for people to pass by on the street and pay their respects. This preoccupation is also reflected in the art of the period, including the decorative artwork seen on gravestones.

TG2408 : Gravestone symbolism (IHS) by Evelyn Simak
The elaborate decoration on this stone consists of a Christogram within a hexagram surrounded by fern leaves.

A Christogram is an ancient way of writing "Jesus Christ". In the third century, Christians shortened the name of Jesus by only writing the first three letters of his name in Greek (ΙΗΣ - from his full name ΙΗΣΟΥΣ). In the Latin alphabet the Greek letter Σ (sigma) is written as an "S", resulting in the monogram being commonly represented as "ΙΗS". This symbol was most popular in the early twentieth century and was first documented in the 1760s.

A hexagram (six-sided star or Star of David) was at one time not uncommon in Christian imagery, where it was often referred to as the "Star of Creation" - little surprising, considering that the Church claims descent from the tribes of Israel, and that Jesus was a Jew. The hexagram is a very ancient symbol, used by several Asia Minor cultures, as well as some Greek city states. For Judaism, the Star of David came into widespread use not before the beginning of the 20th century, when the Jewish activist Theodore Hertzel adopted the symbol in his writings promoting Palestine as a Jewish homeland.

The fact that the Christogram is situated within the hexagram firmly identifies this grave as Christian. The very same combination can in fact be found on gravestones in churchyards and cemeteries all over the country. A hexagram, in general, symbolises creation, and it can also commonly be found further afield such as in Hinduism and Eastern religions.

The fern as a motif on gravestones was very popular in Victorian times, indicating sincerity and solitude.

To my astonishment, I witnessed the decoration depicted here being described as indicating a mixed marriage, by one of the cemetery's official guides, no less. Is it really asking too much to do some research, rather than making things up as you go along and spreading misinformation amongst the unsuspecting public? For a full view of this stone and some information see > LinkExternal link
by Evelyn Simak
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The Rosary also contains 31 Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) graves, all made to the same design from Portland stone. The prominent circle at the top of each headstone epicts a national emblem or the regimental badge. Below the badge are the details of the buried serviceman or woman, commonly comprising service number, rank, name, military deocrations, regiment, age and date of death. Due to the practice of non-repatriation of the dead, Commonwealth servicemen and women who died on active service abroad were buried abroad. The majority of those buried in the UK are for this reason those who died either in military hospitals in the UK, in training accidents or in air raids, or those whose bodies had been washed ashore. Special commemorative headstones for individuals who are buried elsewhere also exist (but not in the Rosary). They look the same as the usual CWGC headstones but in addition have a superscription across the top, marking them as commemorating stones rather than headstones situated over an actual grave. Many other war casualties who are buried abroad are commemorated on the gravestones of their relatives, which can be difficult to spot because they do not stand out like the uniform, clean and well-maintained CWGC graves. All the 31 CWGC headstones in the Rosary are situated over actual graves.

TG2408 : The grave of Edward Albert Smith by Evelyn Simak TG2408 : A Commonwealth war grave by Evelyn Simak TG2408 : CWGC graves in Section P by Evelyn Simak TG2408 : CWGC war grave - regimental badge by Evelyn Simak TG2408 : A Commonwealth war grave beside a burial vault by Evelyn Simak

TG2408 : The grave of Harriett Carritt by Evelyn Simak TG2408 : In commemoration of Alec James Porter by Evelyn Simak TG2408 : The grave of William Jabez and Ann Elizabeth Algar by Evelyn Simak TG2408 : The grave of Gertrude Maud Bishop by Evelyn Simak TG2408 : The grave of the Cann Family by Evelyn Simak TG2408 : The grave of William J Gale by Evelyn Simak


The Rosary is open daily and looked after by the Friends of the Rosary LinkExternal link.
TG2408 : The Rosary Cemetery - site plan by Evelyn Simak
This information board shows the layout of the old part of the cemetery and is situated by the main entrance, adjacent to the burial chapel. Some of the graves of notable people buried in the Rosary are marked on the plan.
by Evelyn Simak
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The year 2019 is a landmark date in that it was established 200 years ago in 1819.

KML

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