It’s true, I have a new favourite cemetery: Basingstoke Holy Ghost Cemetery. I spent a pleasurable hour there this morning while home hunting, and it is magnificent. It is seldom that you get a bit of everything in a cemetery, this one had most of it.
The entrance I used was in Kingsclere Road, and the lodge there is a real beauty. The building dates from 1865, and the cemetery is also known as Basingstoke South View, or Old Cemetery.
Once through the gates there is a short slope and the cemetery is there in all its glory. The information board says that this was the towns burial ground from the 13th century to the early 20th century. The cemetery is full, but there are not too many headstones, the balance of the space is taken up by unmarked graves. There are 20 CWGC graves in the cemetery, including the grave of Capt. John Aidan Liddell VC.
There are not too many statues, but there are lots of very pretty headstones, and there was one anomaly that I have not before.
I don’t know if this was a footstone that was transplanted, or whether this was one way to commemorate more than one person in the same grave. Many of the smaller headstones only had initials and a date on them. I have not seen this before, so it may just be a peculiarity of the area.
The cemetery also boasts of a Quaker burial ground, and I really had to search to find it, although it was right under my nose. Badly overgrown, the graves stand behind what are known as “tank blocks”
These date from World War 2, and were used to protect the nearby railway station. The small headstone and small green covered mounds in the image above are the Quaker graves.
Close to the Quaker graves are the chapel ruins, and these are definitely interesting. There are two distinct sets of ruins here, the lower one was built in the early 13th century, and was dedicated to the Holy Ghost. All that remains are the west wall and the door.
The larger set of ruins is that of Sir William Sandys Holy Trinity Chapel, its origins are from the 15th century, it was built as a place for Sir William Sandys to bury his family.
Albeit more intact the chapel suffered during the English Civil War when the stained glass windows were removed. The chapel is now in a state of magnificent dereliction, its floor still covered in the engraved slabs used as floor monuments in many of the cathedrals I have seen. The complex also served as a grammar school until 1855, when a new school was built close by.
The tower is gated closed, but inside it are some more headstones, although why they are imprisoned in here is anybody’s guess.
There are two weathered tombs with effigies of knights on them, this one is possibly the tomb of Sir William De Brayboeuf, and dates from 1284.
No cemetery would be complete without a great tree, and this one is no exception to the rule, a really magnificent specimen lightened up my day with its beautiful colours and sheer grace.
It is now November so Autumn is here and the light during this session was fantastic.
There was only one really good statue, and it was in quite a good condition too, although a bit too high for my liking. The headstones were generally in a good condition, although many were no longer legible. Delamination had occurred on a number of them, rendering them unreadable.
There were quite a few chest tombs, and of course I kept on coming back to those wonderful floor monuments in the chapel ruins. I do need to investigate at least 2 of them as they relate to the Sandys Family.
The oldest one that I noted was from 1700, and I am sure that there may even be older, but age and weathering really takes its toll so legibility is often poor with these.
And then it was time to start making tracks and head off to my next destination. As I will be moving to Basingstoke during November I will probably be returning here. With Winter approaching the chances of catching this cemetery in snow increases, and I know it is really one that is worth the effort. It is really a beautiful space.
And finally, on my way out I discovered this gem.
How many cemeteries can boast of something like this? not too many I assure you (although they probably do have, but don’t boast about it)
Update: 31 January 2014.
Cemetery in the snow.
And in the early hours of 31 January 2015, the first snow fell, and while there was not a lot of it, there was enough for me to grab my camera and head out. With hindsite the pics from the 31st were mediocre compared to what I got on Tuesday. Visit the Cemetery in the Snow
link to see this place in the snow.
© DRW 01/07/2014-2017. Updated 03/02/2015, images recreated 20/04/2016