A LOCAL HERITAGE INITIATIVE

Local History

The magnificent Victorian graveyard is situated at the heart of Heaton Village, and is owned by Heaton Baptist Chapel (Highgate), although the graveyard is not purely for those who follow that faith. It is not affiliated with, or funded by, any local authority.

The original site was instituted in 1824 when a small Baptist Chapel and graveyard provided for the community, built at a cost of £770.

As Bradford and its population grew due to the rapid development of the textile trade it became evident that the site needed to be expanded to cope with additional numbers. Consequently, in 1868 a further portion of land was purchased for £300, resulting in the graveyard of approximately one acre in area we see today.

The old chapel itself was demolished in 1896, and the stone was used in a large new chapel building at the corner of Leylands Lane and Highgate, just across the road from the graveyard. It too was demolished in 1987 to make way for a housing complex.

There are over 1100 graves, and, according to the chapel register, 8630 people have been interred since 1868, the last burial taking place in April 2007. As such the graveyard is ‘open’, or ‘working’, i.e. it cannot be considered for closure for another fifty years.

The graveyard is also the resting place of several thousand paupers and their children, buried in communal graves which lie in Section C and under the present pathways, of which there are no records.

These burials were free of charge and covered by earth, but probably with no stone sealing slabs. There were no burials of this nature after 1867.

The cemetery was laid out on a rectangular grid, with all plots touching each other and no paths. Private plots were sold as required, with title deeds. Burials range from earth internments under a mound, through to brick chambers able to contain up to six coffins and brick vaults embracing several adjacent plots.

Within the brick chambers the coffins are separated by a three inch thick slab in three sections, and the whole is covered by three feet of soil. Latterly, cremation caskets of ashes have been inserted under the sealing slabs.

Owners of the graves were required to keep them neat and free from weeds, with the Chapel Committee reserving the right in cases of neglect to trim and weed them, charging the owners with the cost.

The burial ground itself was open to the public from 8 am until sunset, except on Sundays, when it was closed during Divine Service. Children under the age of ten were not admitted, except under the care of responsible persons, and no dogs were allowed in the grounds.

There are numerous graves in remembrance of people who shaped the industrial activities of the surrounding district. The headstones and monuments were made by local stone masons whose names are carved at the foot of most graves.

Stone was sourced from the many quarries located in the area. Graves range from no headstone, to elaborate memorials portraying the Victorian and Edwardian ethos of death and the desire to proclaim one’s earthly standing on the way there.

 

Aerial view of Highgate and the quarries

Aerial view of Highgate and the quarries

The original Baptist Chapel built in 1824

The original Baptist Chapel built in 1824

Laying the foundation stones of the Leylands Lane Baptist Chapel 1895

Laying the foundation stones of the Leylands Lane Baptist Chapel 1895

Heaton Baptist Chapel, Leylands Lane, 1890s

Heaton Baptist Chapel, Leylands Lane, 1890s

Arthur Richardson. Builder of many of the properties in Heaton

Sam Scott senior, stonemason for the graveyard

 

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