Tyne and Wear HER(6443): Newcastle, Westgate Road, St Paul's churchyard - Details
Newcastle, Westgate Road, St Paul's churchyard
Religious Ritual and Funerary
In 1848, 142 burials were recorded, in 1849, 150. 1850 saw 189 burials, with a further 178 in 1851 and 272 in 1852. In 1853, the year of the third and most serious cholera outbreak, 547 burials were recorded, falling to 169 in 1854. In September 1853, at the peak of the outbreak, 319 people were buried at St. Paul's churchyard, with 55 burials on September 20th alone. There are no burials records available for study after 1854. It is unclear whether the graveyard was closed or whether it passed out of Church of England administration. The last recorded burial in this graveyard is listed as number 2232, implying that a large number of burials may be present on this comparatively small site. During this period there were three serious outbreaks of cholera. The first lasted from December 1831 to March 1832. At first local church cemeteries were used for the dead, but after February 1832, Westgate Hill and Ballast Hills were used. This outbreak left 971 people infected and 306 dead. The second outbreak in 1849 left over 414 dead in Newcastle alone, and the third more serious outbreak in 1853 left over 1,500 dead, many of whom were residents in the west end. The burial records do imply that this cemetery was used as a burial ground for cholera victims at this time. The paths in the cemetery were altered by 1919. The church became a cinema in the 1930s, but the graveyard is still annotated on plans of 1956 as "existing cemetery". Newcastle City Council acquired the site from St Paul's Congregational Church in 1950. The gravestones appear to have been removed when the graveyard was tidied up for the festival of Britain in 1951 (some headstones are still propped up against the north wall of the graveyard). There are no records of a cemetery clearance, and it should therefore be assumed that the burials are still in-situ on the site. The stone dwarf walls around the cemetery still survive. A metal detector survey, test pit survey and watching brief were carried out in 2012.
Tyne and Wear Museums, 2004, Former St Paul's Chapel, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne - Archaeological Assessment; T. Oliver, 1844, Plan of Newcastle and Gateshead; Ordnance Survey first edition 1850; Baptism and burial records 1841-54 (Northumberland Record Office EP/73/78); Alan Morgan, 2004, Beyond the Grave - Exploring Newcastle's Burial Grounds, pages 99-100; AAG Archaeology, 2012, St. Paul's Churchyard, Cottenham Street - Archaeological Watching Brief, AAG Archaeology, 2012, St. Paul's Churchyard, Cottenham Street - Test Pit Survey, AAG Archaeology, 2012, St. Paul's Churchyard, Cottenham Street - Metal Detector Survey; AAG Archaeology, 2011, St. Paul's Churchyard, Cottenham Street - Graveyard Recording