Heritage Category:
Park and Garden
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Lancaster (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
SD 49193 61858


A cemetery of 1855 on a hillside site which enjoys dramatic views over the city of Lancaster and the valley of the River Lune. The chapels were designed by the prominent Lancaster architect Edward Paley, who was probably also responsible for the lodges.


The Lancaster Burial Board was formed in 1854. It closed the city's burial grounds and laid out the new cemetery in 1855 (White 2001) on an area shown as open land on the 1848 OS map. The grounds were laid out by the registrar, Henry Moore (Salford City Reporter, 19 August 1893), and the three chapels were designed c 1855 by Lancaster architect Edward Paley, who was probably also responsible for the lodges. The cemetery was closed, except for burials in existing family plots, in the late-C20. The cemetery is well maintained and remains (2001) in the care of the local authority.


LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING The cemetery is situated c 1km east of the centre of Lancaster in an area of predominantly open land which includes agricultural land, Williamson Park (qv), C19 hospital grounds, and playing fields. The c 8ha site is on a roughly square plot on a hillside. The land rises from the south and east to a plateau at the centre of the north side of the site, from where it drops sharply to the west and more gently to the north-east. Quernmore Road forms the southern boundary, where there is a stone wall, formerly with iron railings. Stone walls divide the rest of the site from playing fields and agricultural land. Main views are to the west, north, and north-west from the west side of the site.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES There are two entrances to the cemetery, both of c 1855. The principal entrance at the south-west corner is approached by a short drive branching from Quernmore Road and screened from it by trees, as shown on Harrison & Hall's map of 1877. This approach is included in the registered area. At the entrance a stone entrance lodge (listed grade II) in Gothic Revival style lies beside stone gate piers and cast-iron gates. The other entrance is situated at the south-east corner of the site at the junction of Quernmore Road and an access road to houses and to an annexe of the former late-C19 Lancaster Moor Lunatic Asylum. It has a pedestrian entrance via a stone archway and a stone lodge which is of more simple design than the main entrance lodge.

PRINCIPAL BUILDINGS The three cemetery chapels, all designed by the prominent local architect Edward Paley in c 1855, are situated towards the centre and north of the site. The chapels (all listed grade II) are built of stone in Gothic Revival style, the Roman Catholic one being slightly simpler in design than the other two. The chapels lie on a platform at the highest point of the cemetery; to the north is the Roman Catholic chapel, the Nonconformist chapel lies to the east, and the Anglican chapel to the west. A small windowless stone shed beside the Anglican chapel was probably a hearse house.

OTHER LAND The main entrance leads east to a path from which land falls away on the north side. A flight of stone steps leads down to the lower area and the main route continues east until the path divides, with one branch running east on level land along the perimeter to the south-east entrance, the other curving to the north with views over falling land to the west and glimpses of the chapels amongst trees to the north. The path continues north along rising land to the highest point where a platform in the centre of the north side of the site has a circus crossed by axial paths leading to three cemetery chapels of c 1855. The axial paths have some yew bushes alongside them which may be the remains of avenues, though avenues are not shown on C19 maps. There is a First World War Memorial at the centre of the circus. This formal area, which is the focus of the site, contrasts with the less formal layout of the remainder of the cemetery. The position of the chapels broadly reflects the locations of the various denominational burial areas, with the Anglican area concentrated on the west side, the Roman Catholic on the north-east side, and the Nonconformist on the south-east side. The layout of the paths reflects what is shown on the 1877 map.

The land falls to the east of the Nonconformist chapel and axial paths lead east to join the perimeter paths. The north-east side of the cemetery has relatively few memorials, reflecting the fact that it was used largely for pauper burials. To the west of the platform a Crimean War memorial (listed grade II), which lies c 50m west of the Roman Catholic chapel, is in the form of a tall obelisk which acts a landmark and can be seen from various vantage points in the western part of the cemetery. The land falls very steeply to the west from this point, as the perimeter path runs west down the slope, and a path cut into the hillside branches off to the south. Long views west over the city and the Lune valley can be obtained from this area and the western part of the perimeter path, while the wooded slopes of the former Lancaster Moor Hospital and Williamson Park can be seen to the south. As the north-west corner of the site is reached there are long views to the north and north-west to the mountains of the Lake District. The perimeter path continues along the west side of the site, passing an area in the south-west corner which has few memorials and was used largely for pauper burials. It goes on to join subsidiary paths and the steps leading up to the approach from the main entrance at the south-west corner.

The cemetery has a mixture of evergreen trees including yews, and broadleaf trees including mature examples of beech, oak, and sweet chestnut, which are planted informally around the site. The perimeter, particularly on the west side, is not thickly planted, allowing views to be enjoyed from this side. There are trees and shrubs at varying stages of maturity, with examples of younger trees in the north-west and north areas of the site which reflect late-C20 planting. The 1877 map shows that planting was concentrated on the perimeter, around the chapels, and at the junctions of paths. An undated engraving of c 1860 of the western part of the cemetery shows blocks of immature planting and long views over the city.


Salford City Reporter, 19 August 1893 White A (ed), A History of Lancaster (2001), p 209

Maps Harrison & Hall, Map of Lancaster, published 1877 (Lancaster Museum)

OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1848 2nd edition published 1895 OS 25" to 1 mile: 3rd edition published 1913

Illustrations Engraving, The Cemetery, Lancaster, nd (c 1860), (Lancaster Museum)

Archival items Andrew White, typescript notes, 2001 (private collection)

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION Lancaster Cemetery is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * A good example of an early High Victorian (1855) public cemetery for a provincial town. * The buildings, by the eminent Lancaster architect Edward Paley, form a notable ensemble based on three Gothic chapels enclosing a focal rond point on a high plateau. * The layout may be by the notable cemetery designer WiIlliam Gay who also designed Undercliffe, Bradford (qv) amongst others, otherwise it is by Paley. * Notable survival of good C19 planting. * Social interest is expressed in a variety of C19 monuments including many Lancaster worthies. * The cemetery layout survives intact and in good condition including the trio of chapels and duo of gateways.

Description written: September 2001 Amended: November 2001 Register Inspector: CEH Edited: December 2009


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:
Parks and Gardens


This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.

End of official listing

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