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Ryton, cemetery



Religious Ritual and Funerary

Funerary Site


Early Modern



Shown on 2nd edition Ordnance Survey map. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE Ryton Cemetery was established in 1884 in response to the growing demand for burial space outside town centres, as there was great concern over the health risks involving proximity to areas of dense population. The site chosen was to the south of the village, adjacent to Cushycow Lane. A field was bought from James Hindmarsh. The committee minutes do not record who the cemetery was laid out by (the Architect is not referred to by name), and unfortunately no plans have been found showing the original design concept. However, the cemetery appears to have been laid out in a grid form, as it was depicted this way by mapping of about 1900, with (unusually) a single chapel in the centre, which must have been used for both Anglican and non-conformist services. The large carriage drive swept up to and around this from the entrance to the north, adjacent to which was the charming lodge building. When constructed, the Board asked that the cemetery only ‘be laid out to a little beyond the first walks of the chapel’ (presumably to save on immediate costs), the grave spaces were staked and the byelaws and fees drawn up. The Superintendant submitted a list of trees and shrubs to be planted, but unfortunately species or numbers are not specified in the minutes. However a later request for 100 stakes to support the trees gives an indication that there may have been 100 trees corresponding to these. Historic mapping gives no indication of tree planting. It seems likely, though, that according to design traditions, the trees were planted along the main walks and the boundaries, and indeed now many are to be found in these locations. The densest tree cover within the cemetery is situated to the north east of the chapel, with the south of the site having the most sparse tree cover. This area corresponds with the extension, which despite being in the ownership of the Board, was laid out comparatively late (in the 19020s or 30s). It had not been required previously and so had initially been let to Mr. Edward Churnside. The evergreens are predominantly clustered around the chapel and include yew, holly, pine and several varieties of cypress. Large mature broadleaf species that are present include sycamore, lime and poplar. Smaller species include rowan, birch, hawthorn and laburnum. Some young trees are present as a result of recent planting, however the majority of the tree cover is mature. The whole cemetery was enclosed by wonderful walls, interspersed with fine railings for viewing in certain places, and with grand entrance gates, all of which are also on the Local List. Overall the cemetery is an attractive landscape with wildlife value as well as historic significance – in particular for the group value of the different elements of chapel, lodge and boundary walls. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION On 13 AUG 1883 (P64) the architect reported ‘that from the bungling and dilatory manner in which the masons department was carried on at the new cemetery’ he has stopped building and asks the Board appoint a clerk of works to oversee operation. The Board agree to appoint one for two months, with a salary of £3 a week. The work progressed much more satisfactorily after this. The research assistance of Caroline Harrop is gratefully acknowledged. LOCAL LIST




1st edition Ordnance Survey map; Gateshead Local List X20/LLG/14; TWAS UD.RY/1/3

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