Welcome to the Cemetery section of the website.
Update: Following the government advice issued on 18 April, 2020 Stratford-upon-Avon Cemetery is now reopened to visitors at the usual opening times.
A foreman or member of staff will be present from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 8.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. on Friday.
The cemetery is open to the general public between 8:00am - 7:30pm from 1 March - 30 September and 8:00am - 4:30pm from 1 October - 28 February.
The Town Council reserves the right to change the opening / closing times without prior notice.
Please use the form below to search the Cemetery database
The first and only municipal cemetery in Stratford was laid out in 1881 as part of the Victorian concern to improve the urban environment in all its many aspects, particularly as the parish churchyard at Holy Trinity was almost full.
In laying our the Cemetery our Municipal forefathers intended that burial services would continue to be held at Holy Trinity Church and then the cortege would proceed along Sanctus Street and Evesham Road to the cemetery (Evesham Road and Sanctus Street were then the main access road into Stratford from the west). As part of the overall design therefore, Evesham Road was planted with an avenue of lime trees to add dignity.
The cemetery buildings were conceived as an entity – with chapel and superintendent’s office as the focal point. It was built from local stone with the reproduction medieval features so fashionable at the time, notably arches, turrets and buttresses.
The Lodge and frontage wall were built in the same matching style, and the local stonemason, the late Mr Jack Clifford, used to advise that the reason the gates were kept closed was to prevent cattle and sheep from straying in to the cemetery when being herded up the Evesham Road to market. In those days, the cemetery was in open countryside.
In our local stonemason, the late Jack Clifford, there was a wonderful link with the cemetery. Not only are the gravestones his work , but also of his father and his grandfather, and his father’s cousin, Charlie Clifford, actually helped to build the cemetery chapel in 1881, walking over eight miles from Ilmington, six days a week.
From the 1852/53, the register of burials was kept by the Superintendent in the office adjoining the Chapel, in pursuance of “The Burials (Beyond the Metropolis) Act 16 & 17 VICT. Chapter 134”.
The very first entry was of a three month old baby girl named Harriet Hannah Wright who died in Ashbourne Court, Meer Street 123 years ago in October 1881. She was buried by the Reverend G Arbuthnot. One can picture the funeral party dressed all in black standing in the chapel listening to the Vicar of Holy Trinity reading from the Prayer Book Funeral Service before proceeding across the still unused lawns to that first little grave plot. Unfortunately, the plot is not marked.
It is clear that the Borough Council were concerned right from the beginning that the cemetery should be a fitting and dignified resting place for its citizens. This desire and responsibility has not changed and continues to be a priority of the Stratford-upon-Avon Town Council.
Originally, the careful layout of the paths along avenues of cedar trees, were chosen because their evergreen leaves would remind mourners of mortality. Sadly many of these trees have succumbed to old age and have been removed but the tradition of a tree lined avenue is being preserved and repeated in the newer paths and in the extension which was opened in 1956.
Flowers have always been important to Stratford, and the cemetery is no exception. Daily, visitors come to tend the graves and the cemetery staff are proud to keep the grounds in an exemplary manner and have been awarded for their efforts by the Britain in Bloom contests.
Within forty years of opening, the cemetery had to be extended and in 1939 the Stratford Borough Council set aside land specifically for Service War Burials, which are now within the care of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission. Most of the 177 buried here were members of the Commonwealth Air forces, particularly Canadians attached to No. 22 Operational Training Unit based at Wellesbourne. It was fitting therefore that in June 1949 the Stratford Borough Council arranged for the Cross of Sacrifice to be unveiled by His Excellency the High Commissioner for Canada.
When entering the cemetery it is interesting to just look at the tombstones and see how the styles have changed over 11 decades. There are imposing ornate tombstones of our Victorian and Edwardian predecessors – notably the stone Angel of the Resurrection alighting with wings spread on the grave of Marie Corelli,
The war graves have a simple, clear cut style of their own, recording the name, rank and date of death, with a simple inscription, as seen in the video below. By contrast, the “Gypsy” graves are dominated by figures of Christ the Redeemer, in a manner not usually anticipated in small municipal cemeteries.
By the 1970’s the cemetery chapel, with no central heating or other basic modern facilities, ceased to serve the community satisfactorily and in 1994 vandals set it on fire. A year later it was refurbished and re-commissioned on 24 October, 1995