A public cemetery laid out from 1856 onwards by the City Surveyor, E E Benest.
The Burial Board Act of 1854 authorised the setting up of burial boards outside London and in November of the same year an order-in-council vested powers in Norwich Town Council to provide burial places in the city. In March of the following year the Board purchased c 30 acres (12.5ha) of land at Earlham from John Cater and in May Mr Benest, the City Surveyor, laid before the Committee plans for lodges, offices, and twin chapels, together with estimates for the laying out of the ground. Work commenced immediately, including the erection of a separate chapel for Jews, with the result that the Committee were ready to accept applications for plots in January 1856. In 1874 a further 15 acres (6.25ha) were added to the south and a Roman Catholic chapel was erected, to a design by Mr Pearce, an architect appointed by the Catholic community. The cemetery continued to grow to the south and east until by 1892 it was enclosed on all sides except the west by housing. By 1892 a large isolation hospital was under construction along part of its western boundary and in the same year a large triangle of 40 acres (c 16.5ha) of land to the west was purchased from S Gurney Buxton and Edward North Buxton, the trustees of the late John Gurney. Some 7 acres (c 3ha) on the south side of the new hospital were laid out for cemetery use immediately, the remainder being let as allotments. By 1926 the area of cemetery extended as far west as Farrow Road which had been constructed to run north/south through part of the western triangle. After the Second World War, the land on the west side of Farrow Road was taken into the cemetery when a memorial to lost civilians was laid out there. IIn 1963-4 the original twin chapels built by Benest were recast as part of a new crematorium building on the same site, which was designed by the City Architect, David Percival. The cemetery remains (2001) in local authority ownership.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Norwich City Cemetery lies on the west side of Norwich city centre. It is enclosed by metal railings which are bounded to the south by the gardens of houses lying along Earlham Road, to the north by Bowthorpe Road (in the C19 known as Workhouse Lane), and to the east by private gardens, while the western triangle is enclosed by Bowthorpe Road to the north-west and Gipsy Lane to the south-west. The c 35ha site occupies level ground, the C19 and C20 sections being divided by Farrow Road which runs north/south through the site.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
There are three main entrances to the C19 section, located off Earlham Road, Bowthorpe Road, and Farrow Road. The early C20 Farrow Road entrance comprises ornamental iron gates hung between brick gate piers surmounted by stone caps. From Earlham Road the main drive runs north for c 175m, partly between private gardens, to South Lodge (Benest 1856), a gothic two-storey building of red brick and tile. The drive continues north for a further c 150m to the crematorium. North Lodge, of the same style and date as South Lodge, stands on Bowthorpe Road, to the west side of a c 180m drive lined with limes which terminates at the crematorium and continues the same axis as the south drive.
The main entrance to the C20 extension lies on the west side of Farrow Road opposite the gates to the C19 cemetery, the two sets of gates forming a visual link between the two areas. There is also a minor entrance to this section of the cemetery half way along Gipsy Lane.
The principal building within Norwich City Cemetery is the crematorium, built in 1963-4 on the eastern side of the site. It occupies the same position as the twin chapels originally erected in 1856 to designs by E E Benest and reuses some original structural components. These two buildings sat on either side of the main north/south drive which ran between them. The crematorium, designed and built by David Percival, uses the same footprint as the original chapels, which he joined with a connecting building. The original roof structure and decorative roof slates were reused in the new design. Some 100m to the south of the crematorium, on the west side of the south drive, stands a flint and tile gothic Roman Catholic chapel (Pearce 1874); c 220m to the north-west of the crematorium is a small brick and tile Jewish mortuary chapel (Benest 1856).
The mid-C19 ground surrounding the crematorium and lying to the east of the hospital buildings retains most of its original layout. In contrast to the grid pattern which covers the majority of the ground, the north-east corner is laid out with serpentine paths and planted with many mature forest trees. The main walks in this area are tarmac, while the complex system of interconnecting small paths are grass. Within this area, c 250m to the north-east of the crematorium, stands the Soldier's Monument, a column with a terracotta figure of the spirit of the Army by John Bell; made by Doultons, it was erected in 1878. It is surrounded by lines of simple headstones commemorating the losses of several wars.
Immediately to the west and north-west of the crematorium are mid to late-C20 gardens of remembrance, enclosed and divided by hedges. The main area is laid out as a rose garden, with smaller enclosures containing lawns and rock gardens.
The remainder of the C19 ground is laid out in a grid pattern. The main coaxial walks are tarmacked and bordered by groups of trees and shrubs of C19 origin, while the remaining paths are grass. Many of the intersections are marked by small iron grid markers. Approximately 300m to the south-west of the crematorium is a War Memorial garden, enclosed by yew hedges.
On the west side of Farrow Road stands the C20 extension to the cemetery. Immediately inside the gates of Farrow Road is a yew-enclosed garden of remembrance, dedicated to civilians who lost their lives in the Second World War. Beyond this lies the cemetery, laid out in a grid pattern, its main walk aligned on the gates and one of the paths across the road in the C19 ground. The main walk is lined with Cypress trees, while many of the others are distinguished by different varieties forming their avenues; these include a birch walk, a cherry walk, and a pine walk. The whole of the extension area is surrounded by railings with a hedge which includes many mature lime trees.
Pevsner N and Wilson B, The Buildings of England: Norfolk 1 Norwich and North-east (1998 edn), 338-9
W S Millard and J Manning, City map, 1830 (MF/60 397/6), (Norfolk Record Office)
A W Morant, Map of the city of Norwich, 1873 (N/TC 62/2), (Norfolk Record Office)
E E Benest, Plan of the cemetery ground, 1888 (N/TC 48/10), (Norfolk Record Office)
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1880-2, published 1888
2nd edition published 1908
OS 1:500 map of Norwich city, 1885 (AWA 1/11), (Norfolk Record Office)
Burial Board Minute Books, 1854-1929 (N/TC 48/2-11; N/TC 5/4A-D; N/TC 62/2), (Norfolk Record Office)
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
Norwich City (Earlham Road) Cemetery is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Norwich City Cemetery is a High Victorian cemetery (1856) laid out for a Burial Board.
* The cemetery was laid out to a formal geometrical plan conceived by the Surveyor to the Burial Board, E E Benest.
* The layout of the cemetery survives substantially intact although the original chapels (Benest, 1856) have been recast within the crematorium designed by the City Architect, David Percival (1963-4)
* The cemetery contains a Jewish section and associated mortuary chapel (Benest, 1856).
* The cemetery contains a mid-C20 memorial garden and a War Memorial Garden.
* The cemetery has a good collection of funerary monuments, including the Soldier's Monument (Doulton, 1878) and a group of military memorials.
Description written: September 2001
Register Inspector: EMP
Edited: December 2009
This list entry was subject to a Minor Enhancement on 7 February 2022 to amend the description.