Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: December 09, 2018
Webpage updated: December 09, 2018




The oldest burial ground in Old Plymouth was that attached to the Ancient Parish Church of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the Mother Church of Plymouth.  The burial ground, which dated from the late 13th century, occupied the area to the north of the Church.  The earliest burial register existing is from 1581.

When the Anglican Church of Charles was brought in to use in 1646, it also had a burial ground.  The burial registers start in 1646.  Although not an Ancient Parish Church, it did take over the eastern part of the Parish of Saint Andrew's.

At the end of the seventeenth century the burial ground at Saint Andrew's was so full that a new ground was opened up at Strayer Park, some distance from the eastern end of the Church.  It subsequently became known as the Westwell Street Burial Ground and later still as Westwell  Gardens.

The earliest Nonconformist burial ground belonged to the Religious Society of Friends, otherwise the Quakers.  It was opened in Bilbury Street in 1748.

In the same year the Jewish Congregation opened their own small burial ground close to the Royal Citadel.

Also around this time, circa 1750, a burial ground was opened in connection with the Batter Street Presbyterian Chapel.  However, the earliest burial register is dated 1768, six years after it became an Independent, Congregational, Chapel.

Burials took place at the George Street Baptist burial ground, adjacent to their Chapel, from 1787 onwards, the year their registers started.

The Wesleyan Methodists opened a burial ground at their Ebenezer Chapel in Saltash Street in 1817.  Their burial registers start in that year.

Charles Church made the first of two extensions to its burial ground, when land to the west of the Church, known as "higher ground west", was enclosed in 1824.

Although the burial registers for the Norley Street/Treville Street Presbyterian Chapel began in 1662, it was only a list of funeral services conducted there.  Burials themselves were not introduced until it became the Norley Unitarian Chapel in 1832.  Burial vaults were added in 1839.

In 1832 the third area of burial ground for Charles Church, known as the "higher ground east", was brought into use.

Burials of unknown dates are also known to have taken place at the Plymouth Brethren Chapel in Ebrington Street; under the Raleigh Street Hall; and French prisoners-of-war were interred in ground in front of The Crescent.

The Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Cemetery, at Ford Park, was consecrated by the Bishop of Exeter on June 5th 1849, although the first burial had taken place  in unconsecrated ground on December 22nd 1848.  It was usually referred to as the Plymouth Cemetery in funeral reports.

Following the Royal Assent on August 20th 1853 of the Burial Act 1853 the Saint Andrew's burial ground, the Charles Church burial ground, the Ebenezer Wesleyan Methodist burial ground and the Batter Street burial ground were closed to new burials except where they could be placed in existing vaults.  The Anglican Parish Vestries were authorised to elect Burial Boards to manage their burial grounds until the Local Government Act 1894 made it the responsibility of district and parish councils.