Webpage created: August 29, 2018
Webpage updated: August 29, 2018
PLYMOUTH, STONEHOUSE AND DEVONPORT CEMETERY
Located adjacent to Ford Park Road, with the main entrance by the Lodge at the junction of Ford Park Road and Central Park Avenue. The western side of this Cemetery formed the border of Stoke Damerel/Devonport until 1914. Ford Park Cemetery is also referred to as the Old Cemetery.
The PLYMOUTH, STONEHOUSE & DEVONPORT CEMETERY COMPANY was established in 1846 with a capital of £15,000 in £25 shares, for the purpose of supplying an extensive cemetery for the three towns, where the old burial grounds have long been crowded, especially those at the parish churches, and that in Westwell Street. This cemetery is pleasantly situated on a gentle acclivity, about half-a-mile north of Plymouth and about two miles from Devonport, and comprises 10 acres of ground, more than half of which was consecrated by the Bishop on June 5th 1849, for the use of the Established Church, and the rest is appropriated to Dissenters and was first opened in December 1848.
The Act establishing the cemetery received the Royal Assent on June 18th 1846.
On Thursday April 1st 1847 the plans of Messrs Hamilton and Medland, of Gloucester, were unanimously adopted and the work of laying out the Cemetery was to be started as quickly as possible. The chosen site covered some 18 acres and the main entrance was to be approached by a brand new road, 40 feet in width, with footpaths on either side, from Penny-come-quick. At the entrance was to be a Lodge for a gate-keeper or the Superintendent, from which a wide avenue of Cypress trees would lead up to two Gothic chapels. As 'The Oldest-established Paper in Plymouth' put it: 'The cemetery will be an ornament to the neighbourhood, and form a beautiful and interesting feature in the delightful scenery it is destined to occupy'.
It was intended to lay the foundation stones of the two Chapels on Monday August 9th 1847 but the ceremony had to be postpones due to heavy rain. The weather remained unsettled, however, so the ceremony was held the following day, Tuesday August 10th 1847, at 3pm. The Mayor of Plymouth, Mr T H Bulteel, officiated with the help of the vicar of Saint Andrew's Church, the Reverend John Hatchard, and the chairman of the board of directors, Mr W Prance. The stone of the Dissenters' Chapel was laid first and then the one for the Anglicans. After short prayers were said by the vicar of Saint Andrew's, the gathering exchanged their umbrellas for the shelter of a marquee, where the speeches were given.
The two Chapels, built in the Gothic style of grey Devon limestone with Bath stone dressings, were designed by Messrs J R Hamilton and James Medland, of Gloucester, and built by Mr Arnold, of Stonehouse.
Messrs Farley and Colwell were awarded the contract for the construction of the cemetery's boundary wall and a Mr Toll was contracted to construct the upper and southern roadways. The main road from Pennycomequick was under construction.
The Cemetery was opened on December 1st 1848 and the first interment took place on unconsecrated ground on December 22nd 1848.
Part of the consecrated ground was set aside for the interment of 408 bodies of those who died during the cholera outbreak in 1849.
In 1850 the secretary was Mr John Long Colley of 3 St James Place; the chaplain was the Revd William Hacker.
A portion of the new cemetery was in due course give over to those of the Roman Catholic faith and on the afternoon of Friday February 20th 1857 it was consecrated with due ceremony by the Right Reverend, the Bishop of Plymouth.
Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse Cemetery (Extension) Act 1875 (38 & 39 Vict. Ch. lv) received the Royal Assent on June 14th 1875.
In 1877-78 the Cemetery was described as being well enclosed and tastefully laid out, with two neat chapels, in the Decorated style, one for the consecrated, and the other for the unconsecrated division. About 8 acres of land adjoining had been purchased by the Company for an extension but was at that time let for pasturage. 'The cemetery forms a pleasant promenade and east of it is a newly made road through the beautiful grounds, called Hyde Park'. Mr Philip James Jory, of 11 Hyde Park Terrace, was at that time the secretary and the chaplain of the Church portion was the Reverend William Hayden Phillips.
After many years of becoming slowly run down (the Chapel was deconsecrated back in the 1990s), in April 2000 the Ford Park Cemetery Trust took over the management.
Ford Park Cemetery is still in operation. The older burial registers have been deposited at the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office, Clare Place, Coxside, Plymouth, but are not available for viewing because of their poor condition. However, the Devon Family History Society (SEE "Links Page") has indexed the burials for 1849 to 1870. The Cemetery Trust will charge a fee for searching the more recent burial registers.