Why I fell in love with Lewes Cemetery

16 Oct

I was down at Lewes, East Sussex again today. Apart from a brief visit to the East Sussex Record Office I also wanted to visit Lewes Cemetery. I knew there had to be relations buried there, and wanted to get a feel for what the place was like and what would be involved in trying to locate them.

I had taken a peek at an aerial view of the cemetery on Google Maps and knew it was big, but I hadn’t quite appreciated how big it was until I actually got there.

It was obvious that I wouldn’t be able to check every gravestone in the time I had, so I just wandered around the cemetery scanning as many headstones as I could trying to pick out any family names. Obviously this wasn’t going to be very successful, but I did come up with a few GEERING gravestones including that of William and Emily GEERING, my 2x great grandparents.

Two GEERING graves at Lewes Cemetery

Two GEERING graves at Lewes Cemetery

There were three things that really stood out for me about Lewes Cemetery, that made me fall in love with the place straight away. Firstly was the position, it is on a south facing slope (they should be growing grapes there) with fantastic views across to the South Downs to the east and west.

View of the South Downs from Lewes Cemetery

View of the South Downs from Lewes Cemetery

Secondly, there was the condition of the cemetery. It was immaculate, all credit to the Lewes District Council and their contractors, there was hardly a blade of grass out of place. I was expecting to find some areas overgrown and abandoned to nature, but no it was all well trimmed and very neat and tidy, so no scrambling through the undergrowth needed.

Thirdly, and this made me smile because it was totally unexpected. They have their own public toilets. In my limited experience of cemeteries I have never come across one with a toilet, admittedly most of my ancestors were buried in small rural cemeteries or churchyards so my experience of large town cemeteries is very limited. It was a shame I didn’t need to use the facilities at the time!

One of the memorials at Lewes Cemetery

One of the memorials at Lewes Cemetery

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2 Responses to “Why I fell in love with Lewes Cemetery”

  1. Monica Chilton August 19, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Hello found you on a google search. I am an American looking for the gravesite of Cyril Raymond (d. March, 1973 in Ripe). Did you find the burial record(s) that you needed East Sussex Record Office? I will be in Ripe this weekend and through Monday. I have been phoning registries, town councils, cemeteries, and crematoriums around the area but thus far have been unsuccessful.

    Please let me know of any tips which may have helped you.

    Thank you – and apologies for over brevity. I am in a bit of a rush and on an unfamiliar keyboard.

  2. John Gasson August 21, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Hi Monica,

    Thanks for your message, although I don’t have any direct experience of research in Ripe, I can offer a few suggestions.

    East Sussex Record Office would be a good place to start, although burial records for 1973 might be a bit too recent to have been deposited at the record office yet.

    Ripe church would also be a good place to start, I can’t see any contact details on the internet, but there would almost certainly be contact details for the vicar at the church.

    I would also try and check local newspapers around the time of his death as there may be an announcement that gives funeral details. I am not sure which local paper would cover Ripe, but the libraries at Hailsham, Lewes or the ESRO would probably have copies.

    You might also want to consider funeral directors in the area, whilst they probably wouldn’t be able to help with specifics they might be able to suggest likely cemeteries or crematorium.

    Good luck with your search
    John

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