Past Remains

A view of yesterday from today

Cemetery Lodge, Sidmouth, Devon

This is one of those oddities that intrigued me every time I saw it from the bus on the way in to Sidmouth. A quirky, gothic building, I had no idea what it was, although I did see a sign outside belonging to East Devon District Council. One day I had a fair bit of time and was near the top of town so I decided to walk up and take a look, and it turned out to be the cemetery lodge, which I was quite excited about about as I'd never come across one before.

Consecrated circa 1911, the cemetery is still in use today. There is a chapel in the grounds, which I only found out when I did some research for the lodge. I couldn't find any information regarding the building dates for the chapel & lodge, but it's reasonable to assume that they were probably built by the time the grounds were consecrated.

Due to overcrowding in church graveyards, the cholera epidemic and the emergence of non-conformist beliefs, local authorities began opening municipal cemeteries from the 1850s onwards. The landscaping and associated buildings were often designed as a whole, usually by the same architect, taken from the whole range of 19th century historicist styles.

The Gothic Revival style became the dominant one until the early 20th century when the Edwardian Arts & Crafts style also became an influence, as can be seen in this gorgeous building with the fab tower. Built in red brick, there are some lovely features such as the stone quoins and architraves, leaded window panes and a cute trefoil window in the tower. And I love the obliquely set chimneys based upon the Tudor design.

The lodge contained the administrative offices, the cemetery register, and also provided for the maintenance staff and cemetery superintendant; the latter of whom sometimes lived there along with their family.

It took me the better part of a day to research the purpose of of those simple explanations that should be easy to find but wasn't! However, it wasn't a day wasted, as I now have an enormous amount of material about cemeteries in general, and intend to go back and explore the rest of the grounds and the chapel. New project! :)

I didn't take many photos but there are a few more along with these, all of which can be seen in the Photo Gallery album.

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