Stockport Museum has installed a new display around the theme of Death & Burial, showcasing the work of voluntary group Friends of Stockport Cemeteries (FOSC).
In 2012, the group attracted Heritage Lottery Funding to restore one of the grandest memorials at Willow Grove Cemetery in Reddish and to record memories that local people had of visiting the cemetery.
The biggest part of the project was the complete restoration of the Susannah Bogg memorial — a sculpted angel which sits under a marble portico.
This memorial once stood in a prime position at Willow Grove Cemetery but had been laid down for health and safety reasons.
Through the project, the group discovered that Susannah Bogg had been a piano teacher in Levenshulme. When she died in 1924, she left instructions in her will that ‘no less than £500’ be spent on a fitting memorial at her graveside.
The group made some other fascinating discoveries at Willow Grove.
Large numbers of people had been buried in public graves (communal graves without a grave marker).
In one public grave there were 28 children and six adults buried in a six month period.
This paints a picture of life when children died very young and many families struggled to afford the cost of a funeral.
Local schoolchildren have also played an important part in the project by visiting the conservator’s studio and finding out how graveyards can be used to learn about local life in times gone by.
Sheila Robins, Secretary of FOSC and Project Manager, said: “We were thrilled to receive the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund for this project, which was about reinstating a monument and transporting everyone working on it back in time, uncovering more about the past and leaving a legacy for future generations. This display gives an insight to what we have discovered.”
- Stockport Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-5pm, Sundays and Bank Holidays, 11am -5pm. Admission is Free. Visit www.stockport.gov.uk/stockportmuseum or call 0161 474 4444.
- For more information on the Friends of Stockport Cemeteries, visit www.friendsofstockportcemeteries.co.uk or call 0161 439 5963.