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Wisbech Society’s plans to bring chapel ruins back to life

Wisbech Society has moved a major step forward in chapel restoration project at Wisbech General Cemetery, 
left to right Sarah Ledger, David Crouch, Richard Tanfield-Johnson, Paul Eden, Eric Somerville, Tricia Crouch and Ray Johnson
Contact Ray Johnson on 07779419294 ANL-140623-064428009

Wisbech Society has moved a major step forward in chapel restoration project at Wisbech General Cemetery, left to right Sarah Ledger, David Crouch, Richard Tanfield-Johnson, Paul Eden, Eric Somerville, Tricia Crouch and Ray Johnson Contact Ray Johnson on 07779419294 ANL-140623-064428009

A dilapidated historical building could be returned to its former glory after volunteers moved a major step forward.

Wisbech Society needs an estimated £200,000 to transform the neglected chapel at the town’s General Cemetery into a vibrant community and education centre.

For decades the chapel, which is built in the classic Doric style, has stood without a roof and in need of repair.

But the society’s campaign took a major leap forward after the building’s owners, Fenland District Council’s cabinet, agreed a 30-year lease for the Leverington Road site.

Now the society can begin to submit grant applications to bodies, such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, to renovate the chapel.

Society chairman Ray Johnson has thanked the council but says there is still a long way to go.

He said: “Now we have an opportunity to bring this listed building back to life and restore it faithfully and sympathetically using traditional skills and materials.”

Wisbech General Cemetery was established in 1836 and was one of the first commercial burial grounds in the country, being used by non-conformists.

A total of 6,571 people are buried in the cemetery, most in multiple graves and many without headstones. But some of the graves have beautiful monuments.

The cemetery began to decline in 1881 and finally closed in 1972. The society and Friends of Wisbech Cemetery have added a new entrance to the site.

The cemetery is a haven for wildlife and the area is being used by the town’s schoolchildren in their studies.

The society hopes to use the renovated chapel as an educational centre for youngsters along with opening it up for community use.

Mr Johnson also hopes the cemetery park will be added onto the tourist trail.

He said: “This is important for the town.”

 

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