The year of beautiful burial grounds

Wharfedale Observer News

The year of beautiful burial grounds

Highroyds, Photo by courtesy of Mark Davis

Highroyds, Photo by courtesy of Mark Davis

HIGH Royds Memorial Garden in Menston will be joining with the charity Caring for God’s Acre, various experts and other organisations to raise the profile and celebrate the unique heritage within these special sites.

National Conferences will be held to look at the ways as to how these burial sites can create a haven for wild-life to further enhance the environment.

This year coincides with the 10th anniversary of when the local community, here in Wharfedale, became the owners (through the trustees) of the then derelict chapel and neglected High Royds Psychiatric Hospital graveyard on Buckle Lane, Menston.

During the past ten years, with the help of the community and various grants, the Chapel has been restored with a permanent record of the 2861 former patients, who are buried in the graveyard, kept there.

The graveyard itself has been converted into a Memorial Garden which has featured on national TV, won several awards and is officially recognised as part of Historic England.

A recent development (in 2019) saw a Sensory Garden constructed for those who are sight-impaired or have dementia problems. All the pathways now conform to national wheelchair access standards so the garden/chapel is accessible to all.

In addition to the chapel/graveyard the trustees are also responsible for 1.5 acres of the surrounding woodland and the site of the former railway line which was used to connect High Royds Hospital with Leeds.

In an area which is increasingly being developed this area of natural beauty is important and is already home to a variety of wildlife. In 2020, as part of the national campaign, the trustees are looking to develop this further to help with the wild-life and environment.

Local schools have already helped to install bat boxes in the wood and a hedgehog sanctuary has recently been established.

Now, in view of the serious decline of bees, a request has also been received regarding the possibility of one or two bee-hives also being installed. Trustee Ron Sweeney said: “If the person who contacted me regarding the possibility of a bee-sanctuary would care to contact me again we would happy to discuss the possibilities further.

“On behalf of the Trustees/Management Committee our thanks for all the past help in helping to remember the former patients and also in keeping our environment as green and pleasant as possible.



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