A public cemetery established in 1841 by the Rotherham General Cemetery Company. Samuel Worth, a local architect who designed the first phase of the Sheffield General Cemetery (qv), designed the buildings and layout in partnership with John Frith.
In 1840, with Rotherham parish churchyard becoming full, a group of businessmen purchased 3 acres (c 1.2ha) of land near Boston Castle from John Shearman for £499 in order to create the town's first public cemetery (Munford 1989). The cemetery and its buildings, a chapel and two entrance lodges, were designed by Samuel Worth and John Frith, two local architects who formed a partnership c 1840. It was laid out and built by local builders, Messrs Birks & Birkett (Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, August 1841). Rotherham Public Cemetery Company, a joint stock company, was administered by a board of twelve directors, six Anglican and six Nonconformist. The first burial took place on 8 September 1841, that of the Rev Robert Beatson Nightingale, aged twenty-one, a son of one of the cemetery directors, Mr Charles Nightingale. Initially the cemetery was used only for Nonconformist burials, until October 1846 when the Bishop of Ripon consecrated half of the cemetery and half of the chapel for Anglican use (Munford 1989).
In December 1853, the shareholders resolved to sell the cemetery to Rotherham Burial Board, the transfer being completed in 1855 at a cost of £2500. Approaches had already been made to the Earl of Effingham, the principal local landowner, in February 1854, to purchase adjoining land to extend the cemetery and in 1869 the Earl's agent, Mr Ellison, was able to offer the lower part of what was called 'Boston Field', situated immediately south-west of the existing cemetery. Mr John Ewing, third curator of the Botanical Gardens in Sheffield (qv) was invited to advise on the laying out of the first extension and on the transplanting of trees from the original cemetery to the new ground. The first extension, known as '1st New Ground' was designed by Mr F Dobb, a local architect, and laid out by Mr Charles Parkinson, appointed in 1871 as the manager and gardener of the cemetery. In 1887, the cemetery was further extended into '2nd New Ground' when the Burial Board was authorised to contract with the trustees of George Haywood to purchase a close of land and premises immediately north-east of the original cemetery at a cost of £2100. This was subsequently designed by Mr Hubbard, a local surveyor (Badger & Wheatley Client Ledger No 8). Further extensions were made in the C20 (outside the area here registered). The cemetery remains open for burials and is managed by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (2002).
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Moorgate Cemetery is situated on the south side of Rotherham, c 1km from the town centre, on elevated land rising to the south-east. The Victorian section of the cemetery, the site here registered, comprises the original cemetery and first and second extensions and occupies a roughly square site of 3.75ha, with three sides enclosed by stone walls and the fourth side defined partly by a stone wall and railings and partly by a ridge of ground and line of trees. Along each section of the boundary walls, the wall is punctuated at regular wide intervals by stone piers, each surmounted by a stone pyramidal feature supported by stone cannon balls. Some of the pyramidal features are missing or incomplete and some cannon balls have been replaced by square blocks of stone (2002). The south-east boundary is defined by Boston Castle Grove, where a wall of dressed stone of variable height forms the cemetery boundary. Towards the southern corner of the cemetery, on the south-east boundary, close to the entrance to Boston Park (qv), garages have been built into the boundary wall. The south-west boundary is marked towards the southern corner by a stone boundary wall of variable height as it continues downhill to the north-west. Some original railings are present and pyramidal features missing (2002). Beyond this boundary lie the grounds of Boston Park. The boundary continues north-west, following a line of trees and a raised grass embankment which marks the boundary between the first extension of the cemetery and the third extension (outside the section of the cemetery here registered) until it meets the boundary wall in the western corner of the cemetery, marked by a stone pier and pyramidal feature, partially intact (2002), situated 220m north-west of the main entrance. The north-west boundary is defined by a low stone boundary wall which originally supported railings, now missing or incomplete. The wall is in part a retaining wall separating the higher level of the cemetery from later extensions to the north (outside the area here registered), which are at a lower level. The north-east boundary is defined by a continuation of the stone boundary wall, now incomplete, beyond which are the back gardens of private housing, tennis courts, and private land. Despite the loss of some views obscured by mature tree growth, fine views are afforded from many parts of the cemetery to the west, north-west towards the centre of Rotherham, and to the north.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
Moorgate Cemetery is approached from the north-east off Moorgate Road (A618) along Boston Castle Grove, through an area including Thomas Rotherham College (early C19) and elegant stone-built C19 terraces. Boston Park is situated immediately south-west of the cemetery off Boston Castle Grove. The main entrance to the cemetery stands at the centre of the south-east boundary. A short, wide recessed forecourt leads from Boston Castle Grove to a central carriage entrance, with a pair of cast-iron gates and two substantial gate piers. The stone piers, with horizontal dressing typical of stonework in the area, are of Rotherham Red Sandstone with classical obelisk motif and finial. Beyond these, to either side, short stone boundary walls surmounted by original cast-iron railings link to two identical entrance lodges, also of Rotherham Red Sandstone. They are of a mannered Jacobean style and domestic in scale. One lodge has been sold as a private dwelling while the other remains in council ownership. The round planting bed shown at the entrance forecourt on the OS map of 1851 is now gone (2002).
The cemetery chapel stands 85m north-west of the main entrance, occupying a central position in the original cemetery and the subsequent first and second extensions. A simple rectangular building, with Romanesque-style windows, the chapel is built of Rotherham Red Sandstone. Early photographs show cruciform finials and square spirelets at each corner, now substantially truncated (2002). The OS map of 1851 shows two entrances to the chapel, on the south-east and north-west elevations, with an internal partition wall dividing the chapel into Anglican and Nonconformist sections. The internal partition wall has been removed and the south-east entrance most recently used as the principal entry. The chapel is currently out of use and in need of renovation.
The Victorian section of the cemetery includes three phases of development. The first phase (1842) consists of a simple compact layout of two roughly oval path loops, combining parallel and circuitous routes, symmetrically ordered around the chapel situated at the centre of the cemetery. The path structure seen on the OS map of 1851 survives largely intact although some paths are presently (2002) grassed over and the position of some of the boundary walls has altered. In the first extension (1869), situated to the south-west, the walls surrounding the original cemetery were removed and rebuilt to incorporate the new ground. The layout here reflected the character of the original cemetery in creating two roughly oval path routes, similar in scale to the original layout, with the addition of a central circular route and additional connecting paths between sections. The resulting combination of roughly symmetrical parallel, circular, and serpentine paths would have afforded fine and varied views towards the centre of Rotherham and beyond (presently obscured by tree growth, 2002). In the second extension (1887), situated north-east of the original cemetery, the layout again reflected that of the original and, with the rebuilding of the boundary walls to incorporate the new ground and a layout of two roughly oval path routes combining parallel, circular, and serpentine connecting routes, the symmetrical arrangement of the cemetery, which remains evident, was established.
A cobbled carriageway leads through the entrance gates, framed by two large cherry trees, to the war memorial, which occupies a prominent position 10m north-west of the main entrance. Fine views, now obscured in parts by mature tree growth (2002), are afforded to the north-west across the cemetery and Rotherham beyond. At the war memorial the carriageway divides and a cobbled route, which appears on the OS map of 1851 as the main carriageway, initially curves downhill to the south-west from the war memorial before proceeding north-west through a section of prominent monuments, many of which retain original features including elaborate railings and grave surrounds. Fine views over Rotherham are afforded from this part of the cemetery, if in part obscured by mature tree growth. As the carriageway proceeds more steeply downhill, the ground levels off and the carriageway terminates at a circular planting bed on the broad forecourt of the chapel. The circular planting bed situated 75m north-west of the main entrance, presently filled with roses and surrounded by box hedging (2002), is one of the original features shown on the OS map of 1851.
The chapel stands on a level, roughly rectangular platform, with planting areas and grass immediately adjacent, and carriage access linking around the building. Proceeding north from the chapel the path follows an oval route which links north-west towards the boundary wall and then returns south and south-east, towards the chapel. This route, shown on the OS map of 1851 to have been a fairly wide carriageway, is now no wider than a footpath and in parts overgrown (2002). In this part of the cemetery ground levels have been altered to reduce the steep fall of the natural topography, and levels have also been raised, with paths following sunken routes. Headstones are situated close to path edges with inner areas more open. The latter were used for pauper burials and excess excavated material may also have been spread here. Dense canopies of existing mature trees now (2002) combine with the sunken path routes to create a landscape of enclosure, in contrast to the layout indicated on the OS map of 1851 which suggests a more open aspect.
Continuing east from the chapel, the path shown as the main pedestrian route of the original cemetery on the OS map of 1851 remains evident, but is now grassed over (2002). The path leads uphill to the south-east, passing a number of important monuments visible on late-C19 photographs; many of these are now completely ivy-clad. A number of broadleaf tree specimens have been planted here (late-C20) and remnants of earlier evergreen planting (late-C19/early-C20) are still in evidence. The grass path proceeds uphill to the south-east towards three short flights of stone steps which curve back to the north-east towards the war memorial. Immediately west of the steps a long, serpentine retaining wall, evident on the OS maps of 1892 and 1923, has been replaced by a steep grass bank.
Proceeding south-west from the war memorial, a path leads off the cobbled carriageway to the section of the first extension of the cemetery, south-west of the original layout. The path passes maintenance buildings (c 1980) attached to the south-west entrance lodge, the back of garages (c 1980) built into the boundary wall, a small stone storage yard, and a maintenance entrance. The path leads uphill towards the southern corner, the highest part of the cemetery, from where fine views are afforded to the north-east, north, and north-west, partially obscured by mature tree growth (2002). The path proceeds to curve downhill, running parallel to the boundary wall, through an area of monuments and headstones and some tree specimens (C20) leading to a central circular path, within which is situated the largest grave in the cemetery. The monument and vaults of the Yates family, situated 100m west-north-west of the main entrance, occupies a prominent position, artificially elevated. It has room for thirty-six burials but contains only three bodies. Many of the original features are evident including a large central stone urn standing on wide stone slabs, surrounded by elaborate railings and stone corner piers surmounted by carved obelisks. The nearby grave of George Haywood and family, situated 80m west-north-west of the main entrance, has also changed little from photographs taken in the early C20. As the path proceeds downhill to the north-west, the paths in this part of the first extension, which follow a roughly oval route leading towards the north-west boundary, remain evident but are now largely grassed over (2002). As the ground levels, the density of headstones and monuments reduces, with a more open aspect and fewer tree specimens. From here a route leading west gives direct access to the third extension (outside the area here registered).
The path proceeds north-east past the north-east side of the chapel to the area of the second extension. Following a route to the north-west, which currently (2002) gives vehicular access to the fifth extension (outside the area here registered), the northern corner of the cemetery is reached. Here, evidence of the former site of a market garden is seen in a short length of red-brick boundary walling. The path proceeds uphill to the south-east, running parallel to the north-east boundary, through an area of headstones and small monuments, the path layout affording opportunities for serpentine and circular routes leading off to the south-west towards the original cemetery. In this section the aspect is more open with fewer trees, some structural shrub planting, and a few tree specimens including a mature copper beech. The perimeter wall in the second extension is in poor condition with coping and walling stone missing, with alterations to the obelisk features and with ivy overgrowth (2002). The path continues towards the eastern corner of the cemetery, marked by an obelisk now completely covered by ivy, where a number of large headstones are also smothered in ivy. The path returns to the south-west, leading back to the main entrance.
Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, 7 August 1841; 11 September 1841; 24 October 1846
Munford T, Victorian Rotherham (1989), No 57
Harman R, Rotherham General Cemetery, (unpublished report for South Yorkshire Victorian Society, 1992)
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1850
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1888-90, published 1892
3rd edition published 1923
OS 5' to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1851, published 1853
Photograph of Moorgate Cemetery, late 1800s; photograph of George Haywood's grave, early 1900s; photograph of Moorgate Cemetery, early 1900s (Photographic Collection, Rotherham Archives and Local Studies)
Badger & Wheatley Client Ledger No 8, Business of Rotherham Public Cemetery Company (Rotherham Archives and Local Studies)
Rotherham Burial Board Minute books, Nos 1, 2 & 3 (Rotherham Archives and Local Studies)
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
Moorgate Cemetery is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Moorgate Cemetery is an early garden cemetery (1841) of the third decade of garden cemetery design, laid out by a private cemetery company to serve a provincial town.
* It was designed by Samuel Worth, a renowned local architect who also designed Sheffield General Cemetery (qv) and John Frith, also a local architect.
* The site survives largely complete and retains some C19 structural planting.
* Local social interest expressed in burials.
Description Written: June 2002
Amended: July 2002
Register Inspector: JS
Edited: December 2009
This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 11 July 2017.