The South West’s oldest garden cemetery

A very impressive Victorian Garden Cemetery in the heart of Bristol has been on the news:

Arnos Vale: The influential people buried in the South West’s oldest garden cemetery | ITV News West Country

After a supporter of the Cherishing Sidmouth Cemeteries group spotted this news item, a little further exploration brought them to the site’s equally impressive website:

Enter 45 green acres of spectacular Victorian Garden Cemetery. Find out more about the history of the city, told in a leafy and tranquil setting , rich in architecture, fascinating trails and nature walks.

Arnos Vale | Cemetery Services, Woodland Weddings & Events

Which in turn opened up the different sides of the site and the group:

Wildlife – Arnos Vale

Arnos Vale Through Time From Garden Cemetery to Wilderness and then Restoration – Arnos Vale

It really is quite something:

‘Arguably the most attractive Victorian cemetery outside London, Bristol’s Arnos Vale has experienced a resurrection. Once on the point of closing, it is now an exemplar of how “great gardens of death” can function in the twenty-first century.

5 Eerily Beautiful Graveyards & Cemeteries to Visit in the UK

As has been pointed out, Arnos Vale is a good example of an active group.

And its foundation is a story in itself, with the late Richard Smith and his wife Dorothy leading a successful campaign to prevent the sale and redevelopment of part of the cemetery – in particular preventing the destruction of many memorials.

Arnos Vale Cemetery seen from the air following its compulsory purchase by Bristol City Council (Image: Bristol Post)

Crumbling graveyard where Bristol mourners were told to ‘dig up your dead’ – Bristol Live

BBC NEWS | England | Bristol | Champion of Bristol cemetery dies

As has also been pointed out, they had a major fight on their hands, as initially the council was not very interested as the cemetery was a wasting asset to them (as all cemeteries are!).

Fortunately, the East Devon District Council is interested enough in the Sid Valley’s cemeteries!