The pedestrian gates in Great Malvern Cemetery are open daily between the following times, including Saturdays, Sundays, Good Friday, Christmas Day and Public Holidays:
1 April to 30 September 8.00 am to 6.00 pm
1 October to 31 March 8.00 am to 4.00 pm
From around the mid-18th century onwards, England's towns were experiencing a growing burial crisis, where traditional churchyards and burial grounds were becoming overcrowded and increasingly unhygienic. This prompted the development of new ideas for burial, including the opening of new urban cemeteries. These were laid out as a new type of landscape, taking inspiration from the 18th century country house pleasure grounds, with networks of paths and walks and ornamental planting, and cemeteries also became known as places of pleasure and social gathering. These cemeteries often had their own chapels and burial plots which were divided between religious denominations. They became places where people of all social classes could be buried, and where family and friends would meet to walk the grounds. These were known as garden cemeteries, and they were generally operated on a commercial basis by private companies. Their numbers increased, particularly from around the 1820s.
Despite these new cemeteries, the problem of overcrowded burial grounds became acute in the first half of the 19th century. Cholera epidemics of the 1830s and 1840s prompted action from the governments of the day, with a series of Acts of Parliament in the 1850s becoming known as the Burial Acts, giving local authorities the power to open public cemeteries. These were generally set up by local Burial Boards, who often held competitions to find designers for these new public cemeteries.
At Great Malvern, the town saw considerable growth through the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly as a fashionable spa resort. This led to the inevitable problems with finding appropriate burial space and thus the Great Malvern Burial Board was established in the late 1850s with parishioners appointed to the board to investigate options for a new cemetery. They set about acquiring land for the new cemetery, and in the early 1860s held a competition for the design. This was won by the Cheltenham architect William Hill Knight, whose successful design proposed a pair of chapels standing in landscaped grounds, with a lodge at the entrance. Knight had already laid out Hereford Cemetery in 1858, and was working on Bouncer's Lane Cemetery, Cheltenham at around the same time as Malvern, and would go on to design Shipston-on-Stour Cemetery (1863).
The Anglican, Nonconformist and Mortuary chapels, built in 1861-1863 and designed by Knight for the Great Malvern Burial Board, were laid out with the Anglican chapel to the east, and the Nonconformist chapel to the west. These were approached via a central drive from the entrance to the south. It appears that the central tower was added between 1873 and 1874 by Henry Haddon, it being of a different stone from the chapels, and with carving by William Forsyth of Worcester possibly carried out at the same time. It seems likely that a central tower would have been intended by Knight, but was perhaps not carried out at the time of the original construction. The relationship of the tower with the corridor which connects to the Anglican chapel bears similarities with Knight's chapels at Cheltenham Cemetery.
The Chapels are listed Grade II for their architectural and historic interest.
Today, Great Malvern Cemetery is fifteen acres in total having been extended in 2017 when Bishop Michael Hooper, on behalf of the Bishop of Worcester, consecrated a further section of three acres. It is divided into two parts – pre and post 1950. There are approximately fifteen thousand six hundred graves, and these are being digitally documented by the Malvern Family History Society.
Great Malvern Cemetery was the first cemetery to be entered into Caring for God’s Acre which is a small independent charity helping communities to care for and interpret churchyards and burial grounds. As part of participation into the scheme, a biological plant survey was carried out jointly with the Herefordshire Biological Records Centre; many plant species were recorded and the survey also brought to light small early flowering annuals. Areas of grassland in the cemetery are left uncut in the early summer to encourage wild flowers, whilst in the older parts of the cemetery, autumn sees colourful grassland fungi. A wildlife area of the cemetery (plot 4) has been set aside to encourage wildlife, both flora and fauna, and acts as a ‘green lung’ to the area.
For enquiries about the cemetery
Please ring Louise Wall on 01684 566667 or send an email to email@example.com