The Cemetery &
The Mortuary Chapel
Blackheath Cemetery stands hidden on the Blackheath/Wonersh parish border. It is situated on the ridge of the valley close to Barnett hill and accessed by a small dirt track. Its is a tranquil setting and a very fiting place to be laid to rest.
The original cemetery space is now almost full but there is an added area that is situated at the bottom for future use. Many of the graves are marked with an array of headstones, some simple and some elaborate. If you are familiar with past residents of Blackheath and Wonersh it is easy to stroll along the grass path and recognise names that appear in many of the stories and images on this archival site.
Within the cemetery there are of course several yew trees. Christians have for centuries viewed the yew as a holy tree. The heart of the tree is red and the sap is white, symbol of the blood and body of Christ.
Others believe the Yews were planted in cemeteries as far back as the Middle ages, their wood was excellent for making long bows.
A more sensible view is that as they are a hardy evergreen species, they are able to survive infertile soil and varied weather conditions and suggest birth and resurrection.
Whatever the reason, Blackheath cemetery has quite a few.
The cemetery chapel was built in 1900. It was designed by Charles Harrison Townsend, and was Mr. Henry Prescott’s gift to the parish.
From the Parish Magazine, December 1919, “Although this chapel was built nearly 20 years ago, it was only last year that it was furnished with an alter, the gift of Mrs. Cook, and thus equipped for its solemn dedications. This ceremony was performed by the Bishop of Guildford on the morning of All Saints Day, November 1st. The Bishop was received at the gate according to the ancient rite for the Consecration of a church, as adapted to the use of this Diocese. After the chapel and alter had been blessed and “for ever set apart from all profane and common uses under the name of All Souls”, the Bishop and congregation went in procession through the cemetery singing the hymn “Blessed City, heavenly Salem”, after which the dedication was completed by the Holy Communion. On Sunday afternoon November 2nd. the customary annual Memorial Service was held in the cemetery in the afternoon.
Today the chapel is rarely used and looks a little neglected. An original Victorian cast iron water pump stands next to it.