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Brighthelm Centre Rest Gardens

Brighthelm Centre Rest Gardens
©Tony Mould: all images copyrighted

Local listing is different to statutory listing; it does not provide further legislative controls. and does not affect when planning permission is required.  However, when planning permission is required, the ‘special interest’ of a locally listed heritage asset will be taken into account. In 2013 the council asked for nominations for inclusion in the list; over five hundred submissions were considered. The Local List of Heritage Assets was adopted on 18th June 2015, it will be reviewed in 2020; other items in the current list can be seen here.

Former burial ground

The gardens are the former burial ground to Hanover Chapel, Listed Grade II, and now part of the Brighthelm Centre. The Hanover Chapel was built in 1824/5. It has been suggested that the site was already a burial ground from possibly as early as the 1700s. The burial ground originally extended further to the west. Queen’s Road was built over this part in 1845. The original boundary wall and railing survive on the west side of Queen’s Road.

Gravestones moved in 1949 

The boundary between the park and Queen’s Road is marked by railings, which are Grade II listed. Burials ceased in around the early 1850s, and the burial ground became a public garden in 1884. The gravestones were moved to the boundaries of the site in 1949, at which point an inventory of the memorials was compiled. All historic OS maps and surviving drawings show the site to be laid out with a single linear route providing access from Church Street to the Chapel. The drawings show this to be lined with railings and trees.

A rare example 

The Brighthelm Centre Rest Gardens is a rare example of a city centre burial ground and surviving green space within the North Laine. Although the gardens have changed over time, indications of their original use as a burial ground survive, as well as elements of their design as a public park.

Comments about this page

  • An ancestor of mine was buried here in January 1837.

    Is the inventory of memorials (mentioned above) to be found at The Keep now?

    Editor’s note:

    You can find them here Alan.Jennifer

    By Alan Hobden (27/06/2016)
  • Sad to say, my ancestor was not amongst them, but many thanks anyway Jennifer. Regards, Alan.

    By Alan Hobden (27/06/2016)
  • My three times great-grandmother Elizabeth Sargeant was also buried here in 1844. Fortunately her inscription does survive and some years ago, before all these things were on-line, I was able to obtain a transcription from the archives at Lewes. “Sacred to the Memory of Elizabeth wife of Samuel Sargeant, who died 4th April 1844 aged 64 years”. This appears under No 211 in the listing referred to above. Unfortunately the name is spelt incorrectly, (Sargent) although it is correct on BMDs. I was told that many of the old gravestones had been put to the sides of the burial ground so I went there to have a look for hers but I couldn’t find it amongst the brambles and weeds which were there then. At the time Samuel Sargeant was Clerk of  Works for the Board of Ordnance and was working on the Church Street Barracks. He also worked on the Preston Barracks, Canterbury Military Hospital, and the Royal Burial Vaults at Frogmore.

    By Tim Sargeant (30/06/2016)

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