The restored Victorian Chapel and Meeting Rooms at Foster Hill Road Cemetery were officially opened on Sunday.
Foster Hill Road Cemetery, which opened in 1855 as Bedford’s first municipal cemetery, is now a unique Grade II listed heritage site looked after and maintained by volunteers from the charity Friends of Bedford Cemetery.
The charity received a Heritage Lottery Grant in 2016 to fund the transformation of the Chapel into a visitors’ space. After many months of hard work, the Chapel and Meeting Rooms are now complete and an afternoon of celebrations was held to mark this important milestone in the cemetery’s history.
The event was attended by local dignitaries including Mayor Dave Hodgson, Bedfordshire High Sheriff VB Tailor and MP Mohammed Yasin. Guests were entertained by the Goldington Ensemble who performed songs and music played at funerals from 1855 to the present day. There was also as a one off performance of the play, Conversations with the Dead, performed by some of the cemetery’s ‘permanent residents’.
Friends Volunteer Margaret Carpenter said: “It was a very special day and one we have been working towards for a long time. We were delighted to welcome so many visitors to the Chapel and to be able to finally open our doors to the community.”
Margaret added: “We hope that many people will now come and enjoy this amazing space right on their doorstep. Our cemetery continues to be full of life.”
For more information on Foster Hill Road Cemetery visit http://www.fosterhillroadcemetery.co.uk/ on Facebook @Foster Hill Road Cemetery and on Twitter @BedfordCemetery