The main Ipswich town cemetery, laid out with both formal and natural elements by the Burial Board in 1855 and extended between 1921 and 1928 to include a crematorium, advertised as being the only one at the time between Leicester and London.
The Burial Board Act of 1854 authorised the setting up of burial boards outside London and in August of the same year the Ipswich Burial Board agreed to purchase an undulating plot on the north side of the town from local landowner John Cobbold. In July 1855 a Buildings Subcommittee was appointed to work with the architects, Cooper and Peck, while in the same month The Builder was paid to place an advertisement for designs for the buildings. At the same time Edward White received money on account of his 'plans and surveys of the cemetery ground'. However, the Burial Board records show that in August of 1855 they paid a Mr Davidson 'for his design for laying out the cemetery' and in his report to the Board later that year Davidson refers to himself at 'your landscape gardener'. Despite problems with both the building and the laying out, by 1864 the cemetery was described as:
extensive, beautifully formed of gentle hill and valley and dotted with young shrubberies with wide gravelled paths winding and intersecting each other, the whole entirely surrounded by trees which cannot, however, entirely shut out the panorama of the town stretching below ... there are some fine monuments here: also two pretty stone chapels ... the grounds are kept with remarkable care and taste.
In 1891 a brick and timber shelter, designed by architect John Corder, was erected close to the lodge, which at the time was described as the 'cottage of the foreman'. The Burial Board already owned the land to the north of the cemetery, which they leased to a football club, and in 1901 members of the Board committee visited the renowned plant nursery Notcutts of Woodbridge to select trees for planting the perimeter of the area. The work was carried out by Notcutts who subsequently advised on the plan and planting for an extension to the east of the main cemetery, and also on the north extension, at which time the area to the south became known as 'Old Cemetery'. Much of the planting was carried out well in advance of New Cemetery opening in 1921. In 1928 a new chapel and crematorium were added here, to designs by W J A Sherman, architect and in July of that year the Board were advertising it as the only crematorium between Leicester and London. Ipswich Borough Council Parks subcommittee took control of the cemeteries in 1946 and in 1969 a further extension was added, again to the north, this area being given the name of the Lawn Garden. The site remains (2001) a working cemetery, in public ownership.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Ipswich Cemetery occupies an urban location to the north-east of the town centre. The long, c 25ha wedge-shaped site is bounded to the north-west by Cemetery Lane, to the east by the main railway line, to the south-east by allotments, and to the south-west by the gardens of private houses. Old Cemetery in the south is divided from New Cemetery in the north by Belvedere Road which crosses the site from east to west. The ground in New Cemetery is generally level; it is more undulating in Old Cemetery particularly along the east boundary and to the south of the chapels which sit on high ground. This change in level gives panoramic views across the town to the south-west.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main entrances to Old and New Cemetery are from Belvedere Road in the centre of the site. On the south side of Belvedere Road, the drive into Old Cemetery passes the mid C19 lodge and late C19 brick and timber shelter and runs south-west for 300m to the twin chapels at the southern end of the site. To the north, the drive into New Cemetery follows a serpentine route through mature conifer plantings before returning to the centre of the site and continuing north-east on an axis aligned on the crematorium building. At the north end of the site there is a further vehicular entrance into New Cemetery and another into the Lawn Garden, both from the north end of Cemetery Lane.
The principal buildings in Old Cemetery are the twin chapels (listed grade II). The flint cobble buildings have ashlar dressings and plain tiled roofs and were erected in the Gothic Revival style by the architects Cooper and Peck in 1855. To the west stands the Anglican chapel which is still in use, while to the east the former Nonconformist chapel is now a store.
In New Cemetery the principal buildings are the Crematorium and the Temple of Remembrance. The Crematorium is built of red brick with ashlar dressings and was erected by the Burial Board in 1928 to the designs of the architect W J A Sherman. It forms the focal point of the main drives which extend from it to the north-east and south-west.
Old Cemetery occupies the largest area of land within the Ipswich town cemetery, covering 16ha, and is surrounded by mature trees. It sits on undulating ground which falls away to the south. On the high ground between the chapels and the lodge, the wide paths are laid in a grid pattern, with blocks of mature upright yews marking the intersections. Mature trees line the main drive to the chapels which are themselves surrounded by several large mature cedars. The perimeter path is serpentine, becoming more so towards the east where the ground drops away and then rises again to the east boundary. In this area the character is more informal with the main serpentine eastern walk lined by mature limes. To the south of the chapels are two war memorial gardens, enclosed by clipped yew hedges. The slopes in the south-west corner are planted informally with mature forest trees and several clumps of upright yews which partly filter and partly frame the view of the town to the south-west of the cemetery. Three buildings stand close to the northern end of Old Cemetery: a dead room, now used as a maintenance store, the late C19 brick and timber shelter recently (2001) damaged by fire, and the mid C19 foreman's cottage or lodge.
Like Old Cemetery, New Cemetery is also enclosed by a perimeter planting of mature trees. On entering the New Cemetery from the north the main curving drive, lined with mature trees including plane, poplar, beech, and sycamore, is flanked by small hedged enclosures containing graves. The drive leads south-west for c 120m to the crematorium building, beside which stands the Temple of Remembrance. The Temple faces south-west and overlooks a small formal garden containing a pool and divided into twelve sections reflecting each month of the year. On the south side of the Crematorium the grounds divide into the two distinct characters. From the building a wide formal drive lined with dense shrub planting runs south-west and is flanked by areas of grass set with graves and enclosed by curved paths planted with mature broadleaved and coniferous trees. Between this area and the south boundary of New Cemetery on Belvedere Road, the ground is laid to an informal plan, densely planted with a wide variety of large trees and shrubs cut through with meandering paths past the headstones.
Hunt, Handbook of Ipswich (1864), p 88
L J Redstone, Ipswich through the Ages (1948)
N Pevsner and E Radcliffe, The Buildings of England: Suffolk (1975), p 298
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1890
2nd edition published 1905
3rd edition published 1928
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1886
2nd edition published 1904
3rd edition published 1927
Cemetery Committee (Burial Board) Minute Books 1854-1945 (DB4/1-12; DB21/5/1-2), (Ipswich Record Office)
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
Old and New Cemetery is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* The cemetery is a good example of a High Victorian Burial Board cemetery (1855).
* The cemetery was laid out and planted by William Davidson, a horticulturist of note who worked as head gardener at Shrubland Park, Suffolk (qv) and who planted the City of London Cemetery (opened 1856, qv) and laid out Rugby Cemetery (opened 1863).
* The early twentieth century cemetery extension (1921) was planted by the notable nursery Notcutts of Woodbridge.
* The cemetery contains an early provincial crematorium (1928) and associated commemorative landscape.
Description written: September 2001
Amended: October 2001
Register Inspector: EMP
Edited: December 2002
Upgraded: November 2009
This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 11 July 2017.