10th March, 2019. History of Hull’s Cemeteries.

The picture above shows a brick-built table tomb in Hull’s Castle Street cemetery/disused burial ground, this area soon to be radically altered by road-works connected with the upgrading of the local road system.

It is occasionally asked why consider cemeteries in the same category as public parks and recreation grounds? The answer is as follows. To an extent Public Parks and Cemeteries had the same terms of reference; landscaping to create an appealing environment, a green area composed of trees, shrubs and, maybe, flower beds to establish a place detached from the built environment. Allied to this objective was the need to provide public seating (usually benches) as a facility for those there of necessity (funerals or visiting specific graves) and for those using the site as a place of resort. On a practical level a common feature in both parks and cemeteries was the building of a cemetery-man’s/park manager’s house, these usually well designed and appointed compared with speculative housing that the officials might otherwise have had to live in. Further cemetery buildings were the chapels of rest and, maybe, a ‘dead-house’ (see article on burials and the creation of Barton Cemetery in the Articles and Publications section of this website) whereas in public parks other buildings were added later such as ‘pavilions’ and greenhouses.

Clearly there were differing objectives in the planning and lay-out of public parks and cemeteries, the latter to be a quiet place of resort the former more a place of entertainment and resort.

Less obviously, but no less important, was the fact that both places of resort had an educational function, parks to impart horticultural knowledge, cemeteries to convey information about the deceased, or at least some of them, via information on the headstones.

Both places of resort had far reaching socio-political functions, cemeteries as a public health facility compared with the previous chaotic situation in churchyards while parks might be seen in the same context as well generating a feeling in the public of well-being rather than one of resentment and public unrest.