A public cemetery opened in 1860, laid out to a design by William Barratt with buildings by Jeremiah Marriott and Son, and extended in the late-C19.
On 26 May 1857 a vestry meeting in Dewsbury parish church determined that a Burial Board should be established and by August of that year it had been agreed that an area of c 15 acres (6ha) of land at Dewsbury Moor should be purchased for a cemetery. The purchase, from the minister of the parish, the Rev Thomas Allbutt, was completed in January 1859 at a cost of £2500 (Burial Board Minutes).
In December 1858 Jeremiah Marriott and Son were appointed as surveyors and architects. On 11 February 1859 the Board approved plans for the chapels and other buildings and a total estimate for buildings and laying out the cemetery of £4000 which included two chapels, a lodge, and £60 for 'levelling the round hill' (ibid). At the same meeting the Board resolved to seek designs for laying out the cemetery from Mr Gay of Bradford and Mr William Barratt of St John's, Wakefield. The party whose plan was not adopted was to be paid £10 10s while no payment was proposed to the successful candidate on the understanding that they would receive the contract for laying out and planting (ibid). In March 1859 the Board determined to adopt the plan by William Barratt with supervision of the works by Marriott (ibid). This is possibly the same William Barratt who designed Albert Park, Middlesborough (qv) in c 1868. The contract for the buildings, in the sum of £1064 13s 0d, was awarded to William Chappel (Kirklees Metropolitan Council 2001). Dewsbury Cemetery was opened on 1 January 1860.
In 1886 the cemetery was extended to the south-west with the purchase of c 7 acres (c 3ha) from John Wormald for the sum of £3170 plus a contribution of £221 3s 6d towards the construction of Ravenshouse Road on the new south-west cemetery boundary (Watch and Cemetery Committee Minutes). Tenants of Pilgrim Cottages, on the extension land, were given notice to quit in 1886 and new boundary walling was completed by the Borough Surveyor in c 1890 (Kirklees Metropolitan Council 2001). The 1894 OS map indicates a hospital on the site of the cottages and the 1907 and 1922 OS maps indicate an enclosed yard and buildings in the same location. The 1938 edition indicates one small building remaining but no evidence of this now (2002) appears to remain.
In 1979 the cemetery was extended to the north-east (outside the area here registered) to provide a Muslim burial area. The lodge was demolished in c 1986 and the two chapels are no longer in use. Dewsbury Cemetery remains (2002) in use and in the ownership of Kirklees Metropolitan Council.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
The c 9ha cemetery is situated c 2km west-south-west of Dewsbury town centre. To the south-west the cemetery adjoins Ravenshouse Road with the boundary marked by a low stone wall topped with railings. To the south-east the cemetery adjoins housing on Ravens Avenue, to the north-west it is bounded by Burgh Mill Lane and, to the north, late-C20 housing. To the north of the principal entrance approach the C19 cemetery land adjoins a 1979 extension of the cemetery (outside the area here registered), bounded to the north-east by Cemetery Road. To the south of the approach the remainder of the north-east boundary adjoins the grounds of a school. All of these C19 boundaries, excepting that with Ravenshouse Road, are marked by c 1.8m high stone walls. All boundaries are partially lined with trees. North of the principal entrance a c 10m length of boundary wall in brick is in the location of a glasshouse indicated on the 1907 OS map.
The cemetery occupies rising ground on the north-east valley side of the Spen River, which joins the River Calder c 0.7km to the south, with distant views out to the south-west, across Ravensthorpe and the river valleys to a line of hills beyond. Within the cemetery the ground generally rises gradually with, to the north-east, a steep embankment and small plateau adjoining the principal entrance. The surrounding area is largely residential with inter-war housing immediately to the south-east, south-west, and north-west. Crow Nest Park (qv), with a museum and art gallery, lies immediately to the north, with Dewsbury Crematorium adjoining the park to the north-west.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The principal entrance (listed grade II) lies close to the centre of the north-east boundary at the head of a c 80m approach road, flanked by high stone walls, leading south-south-west from Cemetery Road. It is marked by a carriage entrance set between large, ornate octagonal stone gate piers and two pedestrian entrances with smaller square outer stone piers, all with Gothic Revival-style cast-iron gates. The entrance is flanked by c 10m lengths of low stone wall topped with railings in similar style. The principal entrance dates from 1859 and was designed by Jeremiah Marriott and Son. The approach road is on the line of a footpath or track indicated on the 1855 OS map.
A second entrance is situated at the centre of the south-west boundary with Ravenshouse Road. It is marked by a carriage entrance set between square, capped stone gate piers and flanked by two pedestrian entrances with lower outer piers, all with late-C19 cast-iron gates. The design of the piers is in similar, but simpler style to those at the principal entrance. This entrance gives access to the c 1890 extension area of the cemetery. A third entrance is situated at the northern corner of the cemetery adjoining Burgh Mill Lane. It is marked by a carriage entrance, without gates, set between two stone piers similar to those at the Ravenshouse Road entrance.
Some 35m south-west of the principal entrance, two mortuary chapels (each listed grade II) are sited symmetrically to either side of the main entrance drive, with the Anglican chapel to the south and the Nonconformist chapel to the north. The single-storey stone chapels with slate roofs in restrained Gothic Revival style are each to the same, handed design with a cruciform plan. They date from 1859 and were designed by Jeremiah Marriott and Son.
From the principal entrance an entrance drive leads c 30m south-westwards, where it divides to form carriage turns around the two mortuary chapels which are sited on a small plateau at the head of a steep embankment with views down over the cemetery to the south-west and beyond.
Some 40m from the principal entrance a stone cross forming a First World War memorial is situated between the two chapels within a low circular stone wall. The 1907 OS map indicates a fountain within a circular basin in this location. A capped stone pillar drinking fountain without basins is situated 15m north-east of the war memorial. The fountain is inscribed with the letters 'M M B' and the date 1863. From the chapel plateau winding paths lead off to north and south to form a perimeter path following the boundaries of the cemetery. Some 110m north-west and 90m south of the principal entrance each of these paths incorporates a series of short flights of stone steps leading down to the south-west.
To the south-west of the chapels two arms of the carriage turns form a 60m long cross-axial promenade at the head of a steep embankment formed in three grassed terraces. From the southern end of the promenade a path, with three short flights of stone steps, curves southwards to join the perimeter path. At the northern end of the promenade a similar path, without steps, curves westwards before turning to lead south-west forming a second main axial route, slightly acute to the first, in the lower area of the cemetery. A further path from the north of the promenade leads north-west to the perimeter path. At the centre of the promenade embankment c 4m wide stone steps, in three flights, lead down to a cross-axial path following the foot of the embankment and a main path leading south-westwards for c 95m into the lower area of the cemetery. The latter, with the steps, main entrance drive, and approach road are features of the axial spine of a loosely mirrored layout in the eastern area of the cemetery.
In the centre of the cemetery, c 65m and 175m south-west from the embankment foot, two main paths, on a slightly acute cross-axis, divide the cemetery from north-west to south-east within the perimeter path. Between these two main paths, adjacent to the south-east boundary, the perimeter path divides to enclose a narrow triangular burial area. The inner, north-western of these perimeter paths, together with the latter cross-axial path mark the extent of the cemetery in 1860.
Land between the cross-axial paths is divided into two roughly rectangular areas by the slightly acute second main axial path leading through the lower area of the cemetery. The south-eastern of these areas is slightly larger, on higher ground and is roughly centred on the main axial path leading south-west from the foot of the central embankment steps. This area is part of the consecrated burial ground for Anglican use and the rectangle to the north-west is unconsecrated ground. Each roughly rectangular area is laid out with a central teardrop-shaped burial area and four irregular corner areas generally defined by curving paths. The two central teardrop areas, that to the south-east larger, are linked by a cross-axial path, partly grassed to the south-east.
The south-west area of the cemetery is partially laid out in an irregular grid pattern with paths axial and cross-axial with the slightly acute main axial path dividing the rectangular areas. A main path leads c 140m south-west from the rectangular Anglican area to the entrance on Ravenshouse Road. This area is the land forming the cemetery extension of c 1890.
In the eastern area of the cemetery, paths leading up to the plateau are partially lined with trees. These routes are also generally lined with C19 and early-C20 monuments in a variety of styles with a particularly dense collection of monuments on the higher level ground adjacent to the chapels.
Monumentum, Newsletter of the Dewsbury Cemetery Action Group (Summer 2001)
Kirklees Metropolitan Council, A History of Dewsbury Cemetery, (unpublished report c 2001)
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1855
2nd edition published 1894
1948 provisional edition
OS 25" to 1 mile: 2nd edition published 1907
3rd edition published 1922
Dewsbury Burial Board Minute Book, 1857-73 (West Yorkshire Archive Service, Kirklees)
Dewsbury Watch Committee Minutes 1876-83 (West Yorkshire Archive Service, Kirklees
Dewsbury Watch and Cemetery Committee Minutes 1883-9 (West Yorkshire Archive Service, Kirklees)
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
Dewsbury Cemetery is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* A good example of a High Victorian (1859-60) public cemetery for a provincial town in formal style complimented by a later C19 extension in similar style.
* The site was laid out to a design by William Barratt of St John's, Wakefield, with buildings by architects Jeremiah Marriott and Son, including twin chapels and two entrances.
* The Gothic chapels form a striking focal point in the design, flanking and dominating the main entrance and axis, and set dramatically at the top of a sloping plateau.
* Social interest is expressed in a variety of C19 monuments, most of which are relatively modest with a particularly dense collection of monuments on the higher level ground adjacent to the chapels.
* The cemetery layout and structures survive but in poor condition, together with some planting perhaps from the C19.
Description written: March 2002
Register Inspector: HMT
Edited: December 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, 20 July 2017.