The Sheffield General cemetery is a registered charity run by trustees, this means it’s a ‘private’ rather than ‘public’ cemetery. Wild and unkempt, graves unplotted and stones crumbling. It’s one of the earliest commercial cemeteries, and garden cemeteries, in Britain. People paid to be buried here in good company of other wealthy people. They were the new ‘Middle’ class who were mainly ‘Dissenters’, Nonconformists, Protestants who were separate from the Church of England. The cemetery was probably a symbol of the rise of these non-conformists outside of the gentry who inherited their wealth and were mainly Church of England.
The General cemetery is less than 2.5 miles away from the Sheffield City Road cemetery which run by Sheffield local government, a public cemetery. It was built 45 years before the City road cemetery in 1836 because:
“Graveyards were overflowing and there was an urgent need to find more space for the bodies (safe from body snatchers!)… …where people could be buried in a way that reflected their earthly wealth and status… …in a ‘remote and undisturbed’ location. It became established as the principal burial ground in Victorian Sheffield containing the graves of 87,000 people…
It took me about 40 minutes to walk the uphill mile from the city centre train station to the General cemetery. Poor people were buried in this private cemetery, but not with individual graves. Their website announces that the General cemetery throws all the bodies of the poor into one plot, it contains:
“the largest single grave plot in the country, holding the bodies of 96 paupers ”
This was about making a profit for the private company shareholders, they did it by:
“burying paupers for the Poor Law authorities. They charged five shillings (25 pence) for each pauper. Then they waited until they had a cartful of them and saved space by burying them all in a single plot”