FEATURE: Working to save part of our history
Holbeach mum Jenny Allen told recently of her shock in learning of a holiday let idea at the town’s historic cemetery chapels.
Her daughter Lucie-Rose Loveridge is buried in the cemetery in Park Road, and Jenny felt the idea to turn it into a holiday let was inappropriate.
It is unlikely now that the idea of a holiday let will be pursued.
But the Victorian chapels are in need of repair and refurbishment and if funding is not secured for sustainable ideas for their future they could become derelict.
Gill Graper, who is on the Holbeach Cemetery Chapels Trust, said the holiday let proposal was just one idea suggested by an external expert in the refurbishment of heritage sites. A public survey was put out asking for people’s opinions on that idea and others.
“When a holiday let idea was suggested we thought surely not but we bowed to the expertise of someone who has developed heritage sites,” she said.
“The idea was always questionable and we feel that quite strongly. Having visited the cemetery chapels in Lye and Wollescote (in the West Midlands) and from the reaction to the (public) survey it is unlikely we will pursue the holiday let idea.”
At Lye and Wollescote the cemetery chapels building has been allocated as rooms for use as offices, providing a regular income and a secure future for the building. It is also used as a venue for weddings and other civil ceremonies.
Further suggestions for the Holbeach chapels are to turn them into an event/venue space or a workspace/office let and/or a multi-use space with café facilities. In order to gain funding from Heritage Lottery to be able to preserve the chapels, the Trust must put forward sustainable ideas.
The cemetery itself is now closed to burials, except for family plots or where a plot has been pre-booked.
It is estimated that half a million pounds is needed to refurbish the chapels which stand opposite each other in the centre of the cemetery gardens.
History says that the North Chapel was a non-conformist chapel and the South Chapel was Church of England.
Many events have been run throughout this year to raise awareness of the chapels, including a painting and photography exhibition, drama workshops with Act II, stained glass and masonry workshops and even music concerts.
Cemetery trails, led by researcher Linden Secker have been incredibly popular with people learning about the history of the Victorians buried there.
The trustees know that the future of the cemetery chapels is always going to be a sensitive subject, but to lose the buildings and part of Lincolnshire’s history would be a real shame.