Wisbech Society has been awarded a Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage grant of up to £20,000 to assist with the upkeep and continued improvement of Wisbech General Cemetery and its restored Grade II-listed chapel, helping restart or begin afresh work forced to stop by the coronavirus pandemic. This project is funded by the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. The Culture Recovery Fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England, using funds provided by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The Society has been unable to offer the chapel for hire owing to COVID restrictions, but has continued to pay for heating and utilities to keep the old building in good order. Meanwhile, trustees and volunteers have been forced to neglect some aspects of necessary maintenance as social distancing has made them difficult or impossible. The grant will enable rectification and maintenance, as well as providing funds for mundane yet essential tasks, including painting the long fences alongside the Lambert’s Walk entrance to the cemetery, off North End.
The hope is that as restrictions ease into the summer, Wisbech Society will be able to restart the majority of its work in earnest, backed by the funds necessary to complete the various tasks. In the cemetery grounds, the Friends of the General Cemetery have continued working as much as restrictions have allowed, but they too will benefit from funding for tools and other equipment to help them return to the project on a larger scale.
Wisbech Society held a ‘Welcome Back Open Day’ at Wisbech General Cemetery, North End, Wisbech (near ASDA) on Sunday, 25 July 2021, from 10.30am to 4.00pm. The event celebrated the completion of work funded by the Culture Recovery Grant provided by the Dept of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and administered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Among the completed works, visitors observed the freshly repainted fences to Lambert’s Walk, the replacement of a stolen section of fencing, and refreshed paintwork to the Chapel, which had also been deep cleaned internally. In the cemetery, several fallen monuments have been re-erected and others made safe. A secure storage facility now houses equipment – some of it new – used by the Friends of the General Cemetery in their tireless maintenance work around the grounds. They are keen to recruit more volunteers to help in the rewarding task of keeping the cemetery tidy and ensuring it remains the thriving haven for wildlife that it has become.
The Friends of the General Cemetery gave guided walks during the day, and visitors took the opportunity to see inside the newly cleaned Chapel and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of its surroundings. The friends also had a plant stall, while refreshments and Wisbech Society books were available to purchase in the chapel.