WORKS to clear overgrown areas of Chester’s Overleigh Cemetery have shed light on the area’s rich history.
The land had become overgrown and neglected during the years and large areas had become inaccessible or hidden from public view, providing perfect locations for anti-social behaviour.
Partnership working between the council’s cemeteries and crematorium service, community enforcement team, streetscene and grounds maintenance, along with a local stonemason and a workforce provided by the probation service, meant that vast expanses of overgrown land can now be put to good use, including the creation of a baby garden and seating.
As the overgrowth was cleared of brambles and ivy, architecturally ornate Victorian memorials were uncovered, each one with its own tale of local history and heritage.
One of the most extravagant tombs to be found was that of Henry Raikes – a former Chancellor of Chester – which features a full-size statue of Henry being protected by an ornate stone canopy.
Historical information on the finds is currently being collated and, once complete, will be added to Cheshire West and Chester Council’s website.
Public seating has also been installed and a new noticeboard will be in place shortly.
Cllr Lynn Riley, executive member for community and environment, said: “As a direct result of the works carried out, an area that was until recently a haunt for those intent on causing anti-social behaviour has now been opened up for the local community and become an increasingly popular visitor attraction.”
Overleigh Cemetery opened in 1850 and was the only municipal burial ground in the city until Blacon Cemetery opening in 1922.