A new Sheffield Airbnb opens in Sheffield – take a peek inside
Answer: This is a ‘garden cemetery’, one of five in the country – including Highgate in London – and about to move to the next stage of restoration at a cost of 3.7 million. pound sterling.
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Next month will see the start of work on the catacombs, path repairs and other work at Sheffield General Cemetery, which has a population of 87,000 and 10 listed buildings and monuments.
It comes after years of hard work by the owner of Sheffield City Council and volunteers from the Sheffield General Cemetery Trust to maintain the site and open it up to visitors.
Their aim is to get rid of any Victorian suffocation and promote it as a park, nature reserve and unspoiled historic site as a mixture of ‘meadow, woods and monuments’.
Built in 1836 in response to overcrowding and poor conditions in Sheffield’s cemeteries, it is sandwiched between Cemetery Road and Porter Brook near Ecclesall Road.
The trust just opened an Airbnb in the Grade 2 * listed Gatehouse on Cemetery Avenue to raise funds for its conservation goals.
Sexton’s Lodge originally housed up to 11 people in two working families, such as gravediggers and stonemasons. With only one bedroom and one living room, conditions would have been “horrible”.
Frighteningly, it rises above Porter Creek to represent the crossing of the Styx River into the afterlife.
Now after a £ 10,000 renovation it has reverted back to the Victorian style with original pieces and antiques and no TV – although it does have wifi.
The trust believes it will be popular with visitors and newlyweds at the Samuel Worth Chapel in the park, which it also manages.
Administrator Mick Claxton said bookings for £ 100 a night accommodation were already “beyond their wildest dreams”.
We are also far from the 70s when it was abandoned and access to the cemetery was blocked.
Restoring it was one of the trust’s first projects and today the other side of the structure is their office.
Mick added, “It’s about to be a new era for the cemetery. It’s amazing how many people living locally haven’t come here or know it’s accessible.
The trust restored the old Maverick Chapel in 2016 and renamed it Samuel Worth Chapel after its architect.
About fifty volunteers also repair the trails and clean the vegetation and organize history, bird, bat and mushroom tours.
Administrator Cate Evans said: “The cemetery is the best condition it has been in since 1976. I first arrived here in the 1970s as a teenager and it was completely overgrown.
“The restoration of the chapel was the catalyst for funding the lottery. It showed the importance of the site from a heritage point of view for the city. It has been so neglected for so long, recognition is due.
Built in an ancient Egyptian-Greek style quarry, it is one of Britain’s oldest commercial cemeteries.
Famous residents include Mark Firth, a successful industrialist from Sheffield, benefactor of Firth Park and founder of the University of Sheffield, who died in 1880.
It is also home to confectioner George Bassett, famous for Liquorice Allsorts, chartist Samuel Holberry, steelmaker Thomas Jessop and John Gunson, chief engineer of the Sheffield Waterworks Company, who oversaw the construction of the Dale Dyke Dam.
Several members of the world’s premier football club, Sheffield FC, are also buried there including William Perst, co-author of the first rulebook, whose funeral procession in 1885 saw the roads lined with several thousand mourners. It also holds the largest burial plot in the country, which contains the bodies of 96 poor people.
In 2018, the cemetery received £ 3.75million from the lottery. Restoration of the catacombs is expected to begin next month, returning them to their original design with the removal of a concrete balustrade from 1930.
Structural work will be carried out to remove the temporary supports and reopen a path.
Some 1,000 people already used the park-cemetery every day. It has five entrances including the gatehouse and is open 24 hours a day.
Cate added: “There is nothing like it anywhere in Sheffield and this is your chance to show something special.”
Around the same time last year, investigations took place in the catacombs allowing specialist engineers to uncover the internal construction and make detailed plans for their long-term conservation and repair.
They also studied the impact of the balustrade load on the original 19th century stone vaults.
Sheffield City Council has received over £ 3million from the joint National Lottery Heritage Fund / National Lottery Community Fund Parks for People as part of a four-year £ 3.75million investment program to protect the grounds of Sheffield General Cemetery.
Garden cemeteries arose when urban populations began to grow too large for traditional cemeteries.
These would generally be fortified enclosures close to churches with minimal planting. The rich had their own chapels and grounds, and a few citizens had memorials in or near the church.
But most of the people were buried together in a nearby pit. Finally, Parliament insisted that the burial sites be outside the city. Public parks did not exist and the landscaped private gardens of the landowners inspired, the chapels taking the place of the bastide as the main center of attention. They also copied the idea of perimeter walls, entrance pavilions, memorials.
Highgate Cemetery in London is Grade I listed and has a population of 170,000. Among the famous people buried there is the German philosopher Karl Marx.
The Friends of the General Cemetery were formed in 1989 by a handful of local residents. It has become the Sheffield General Cemetery Trust whose objectives are: “to encourage everyone to enjoy this historic site by walking its trails, learning its history or simply as a quiet place to sit and contemplate”.