Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A virtual walk through Radnor Street Cemetery continued

Time to take a mid-week pause on our virtual walk and learn a little about the cemetery, laid out high on Kingshill at the centre of a mid Victorian building boom in Swindon.

The Kingshill estate came up for sale following the death of Swindon farmer and brewer John Harding Sheppard in 1868 and speculative builders started buying up the plots.

This 11½ acre plot was bought by James Hinton.  When the need for a cemetery for the rapidly expanding town became pressing, he offered this field at the cost £3,907.  The cemetery debate had dragged on for more than ten years, so with the two Local Boards at last working in unison, his offer was accepted and work soon began.

Local architect William Read was commissioned to design the buildings - a lodge at the Radnor Street entrance, a mortuary and the Chapel - all in the popular Gothic Revival style of architecture.

A further £5,390 10s went to Messrs Phillips, Powell and Wiltshire, employed to lay out the cemetery and complete the building.  

There are 33,000 burials here and although the cemetery closed to new burials in the 1970s interments in existing family plots continue.  

The layout resembles a country estate with the chapel situated where the mansion house might be.   A roadway along which the funeral courtege would proceed leads from Radnor Street past the chapel and out through Dixon Street with pathways separating the different sections.  There are four entrances at Radnor Street, Clifton Street, Kent Road and Dixon Street.

Looking towards Kent Road gate

Kent Road gate

Samuel Carlton's memorial - we'll be stopping by here on Sunday.

Section E - some of the oldest memorials in the cemetery - remind me to tell you about the magnificent Radnor Street guardian angel.

The churchyard at St Marks closed on August 1, 1881 and the first burials at Radnor Street were on August 6 - Frederick Gore a 54-year-old painter from New Swindon, and Albert Edward Wentworth aged 1 month from Gilbert’s Hill.

William G. Hulbert's gateway to heaven.

Path through Section B -  the Preater grave is on the right - this family lost three sons in the First World War - join me for a virtual Remembrance Sunday walk in November.

A view across Swindon to the old railway works.  The block of modern housing stands on the site of the former 'A' shop.

Another view of Section E.

A view of the Murray John tower block built in the 1970s named in honour of Swindon's visionary town clerk, David Murray John.

The mortuary.

Magnificent 'Gothic' view of the cemetery captured by Andy Preston - see more of Andy's work on Edge Effect

Tomorrow we will be visiting the grave of William Hooper.  Hope to see you there.

You might also like to read
A virtual walk through Radnor Street Cemetery - Levi Lapper Morse
A virtual walk through Radnor Street Cemetery - Frederick O'Conor
A virtual walk through Radnor Street Cemetery - William Hooper
A virtual walk through Radnor Street Cemetery - Richard Strange
A virtual walk through Radnor Street Cemetery - the Kiddle Family
A virtual walk through Radnor Street Cemetery - Samuel Carlton
A virtual walk through Radnor Street Cemetery - Richard James Leighfield


  1. nice photos! I think it would be cool to walk through a cemetery in England.

  2. Thanks Leslie. These posts have proved so popular I shall definitely be conducting another virtual walk soon.

  3. Love the photos - and the 'in the past lane' pun too.

    Cemeteries are such great places, not only for a genealogist, but also to go for a quiet walk and contemplate... and also a great place to see nature too.