My Wild Life is a weekly column running each Saturday throughout 2015 in the East Anglian Daily Times. Each week it features stories of action for local wildlife
By Michelle Marshall – Stowmarket Town Council
Since 2007, Stowmarket Town Council has managed the Old Cemetery, Bury Road as an area for wildlife. It is managed to encourage the growth of wildflowers and to attract a range of insects, small mammals and birds.
The cemetery dates back to the middle of the 19th Century, with the first burial taking place in August 1855. The cemetery was laid out in a way to create eight distinct areas for burials, four of which are on consecrated land and four on un-consecrated land. In addition, two small chapels are contained within the site. These beautiful buildings were used to hold the funerals of those who are buried in the cemetery.
The last internment took place in 1901 and it was at that point that the Old Cemetery was closed for burials. The cemetery is the final resting place of a number of the victims of the gun cotton explosion in 1871 and, in 2013, a plaque was installed to act as a permanent memorial to the victims.
The Old Cemetery contains an ashes plot which is still in use, managed along more formal lines and work is currently being undertaken to demarcate the two distinct areas within the cemetery.
For the majority of the site, the grassland is being managed in a way to reduce the fertility of the soil in order to encourage the growth of wild flowers; this forms part of the long-term plan as it will take around 20 years before any major changes are seen. It is extremely encouraging that over the past few years the variety and number of wild flowers has significantly increased.
A number of bird boxes have been installed throughout the cemetery and these have been well-used over the past few years. A great variety of bird life can be found on the site.
The Old Cemetery is a charming place, a calm oasis in the middle of a busy built up area – the Town Council is committed to ensuring that this very special site continues to be preserved and enhanced.
This and many of the projects featured in this column have received support from the Heritage Lottery Funded Networking Nature initiative.
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