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Wardsend? More like Wards-Beginning!

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After 3 months of collaboration with Friends of Wardsend Cemetery the new website, including a Virtual Map, was launched on Friday. We couldn’t be happier with the launch event and were taken aback by the number of people who attended. As much as the launch was a presentation and introduction of our work, we were inspired by the number of people who brought along articles and stories linking them and their family to the cemetery. Seeing the site being used to discover and locate relatives and ancestors was fantastic!

Friday, and the days following the event so far, have seen a significant rise in the website’s activity. Seeing it being used is wonderful and as part of our sustainability plan, the website will be updated as new stories are discovered and community links are created.
If you have any stories or community links which you think could be included on the website or would like to get more involved do contact the Friends of Wardsend Cemetery group at wardsend@gmail.com.

Photos from the event will be uploaded to the website soon!

We would like to thank everyone who attended our launch, helped us with the creation of the website and all those who have explored the site so far! Through working with the Friends of Wardsend Cemetery group not only have we enjoyed creating this new resource, but more significantly, we have been shown a secret gem of Sheffield which I am sure we will return to in the future.

 

What is this ‘Virtual Map’?

Map logo1

Hello! I’m Beth, yet another student of Public Humanities MA who has been working with the Friends of Wardsend Cemetery over the last term. I have been in charge of creating the virtual map, which will feature on the website and be launched at our event on May 12th at the University of Sheffield.

The map will be a collection of the research we have done on a few of those buried and remembered at the cemetery.

Why a map? Well, as a group we wanted to showcase our research in a form that was more exciting than an article. Alongside this, we wanted to help FOWC increase awareness of the actual cemetery in Sheffield. So we hope that creating a map will bring the site to life, and inspire people to go and visit for themselves.

On the map you will find the stories of a small number of those buried at the cemetery, their lives and perhaps their deaths. There will also be tales about the site as a whole that will help to give background to the cemetery, and also to organisations and future projects that FOWC are involved in.

It is worth mentioning that there is not an image for every gravestone on the map. This is because the cemetery is currently not 100% passable, and we have not reached the headstones of everyone we have researched. At this point I would like to add a disclaimer: we do not suggest you venture too far off paths upon your visits to the cemetery, and if you do choose to; be aware of your surroundings and possible trip hazards, don’t rely on any headstones to be firmly in the ground and be wary of railings and loose stones. Large parts of the cemetery aren’t accessible at the moment, but FOWC are hoping that this will change in the next few years and then everyone will be able to explore and find out stories of their own!

What next? You need to visit the site for yourself!

As soon as the website becomes live on May 12th, view the map! On there, choose a plot to explore, click on the photos, read the stories, and learn about the people buried there. But then be sure to visit the cemetery located in Hillsborough, near Sheffield, for yourself too!

View the map HERE!

Wardsend through an oil painting

A few weeks ago a few of us took a trip to Weston Park Museum as part of one of my other modules for my MA. Whilst in the museum we ventured into the Gallery where we stumbled upon several paintings of Hillsborough, a few of which featured Wardsend Cemetery from the 19th century.

I could not help but notice, and also appreciate, the different pictures of Wardsend portrayed in the images – such a contrast to the space we see now. The first painting, titled ‘Sheffield and the Valley of the Don’, was painted by Edward Price circa 1863. In the painting we can see a Wardsend Cemetery, surrounded by green fields and complete tranquillity. The original chapel is also in the picture. If I were to take a picture from the same location, say on my Iphone, we would now see Hillsborough College and the Owlerton Stadium, yet the cemetery still remains as part of this modern landscape – amazing.

The second painting, created by William John Stevenson, is an oil painting of the River Don at Wardsend. The painting is dated 1875, so almost ten years after Price’s painting, but still, the picture portrays the same tranquil demeanour. The scene displays a man looking over the River Don, with Wardsend in the distance.

Both images can be found by clicking on the artist’s respective name. Have a look and please feel free to share your thoughts on the paintings.

Edward Price

William John Stevenson

‘I Certainly Didn’t Expect To See That!’

It was Sunday the 9th of April, and the sun shone brightly as Sheffield’s temperature climbed into the 20s for one of the first times this year. It was a time for first ice creams of the year, sunbathing, a beer in a deckchair, and, of course, a day at Wardsend Cemetery.

Whilst much of the city was preparing itself for the half marathon, 37 of us made our way towards the sparkling and shimmering River Don, and Wardsend Cemetery. We could not be happier with the turnout, and want to personally thank everyone who came.

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Image Credit: Howard Bayley, Facebook

The clean-up has made a big difference to the feel of the cemetery, and it is all thanks to the volunteers that Wardsend looks nice enough to match the weather!

Turnout was so high that we even ran out of images to pass around, so thank you everyone for sharing! From feedback we had on the day and on Facebook, it seems that everyone had a great day out, and hopefully learned a lot about the cemetery.

Not only was it wonderful to see so many people at our event, but it also meant that the donations we received were sizeable enough to cover our whole year’s insurance! So thank you everyone for your generosity!

If anyone wants to learn more (or perhaps recap) on Wardsend’s history, they can click this link

A final thank you again to everyone that came! And to anyone that wants to be more involved with the cemetery, you can join our Facebook page HERE

[Notice regarding images: The included image is taken from https://www.facebook.com/groups/wardsendcemeteryproject/, if you are included in this image and wish it to be removed, please email us at wardsend@gmail.com]

The Role of the Closed Cemetery

Hi. I’m Katy, another of the students studying Public Humanities at the University of Sheffield. I’ve also benefitted from the cemetery local to my parents’ house in Wiltshire since I was 15. Attached to the St. Denys the Minster, it provided me a place of refuge when my sister was watching rugby, somewhere to read poetry without interruption, and a place to think things through. It also bought me closer to my town when I discovered a WW1 grave, who’s occupant died 10 days before the Armistice was announced.

Why am I telling you all of this?

When we had our brief for the partnership with the Friends of Wardsend Cemetery, I was excited to find that we were focusing on a cemetery. This was a fantastic opportunity to be part of reclaiming the cemetery and turning it into a place of refuge, like my cemetery back home.

Many people consider my view of cemeteries as a place of refuge as a little bizarre, even a little gothic. However, in the Friends of Wardsend Cemetery, and the ‘Friends’ culture I hadn’t come across before moving to Sheffield, there is a different approach where the cemetery becomes a place of history, nature and community. From encouraging locals to get involved with clear up sessions through to working with heritage and environmental projects, the FoWC  is doing everything they can to bring Wardsend Cemetery back into the community.

So what will Wardsend Cemetery’s role be?

Obviously, a closed cemetery is not open for more burials. We are left with two possible roles. The local community can eventually abandon the cemetery and allow it to become overgrown and unused. This is what has happened to Wardsend. The other choice is to maintain the cemetery and turn it into an area that the community can enjoy and learn from. Essentially, to recreate the cemetery in the form of a museum, park and creative space. This is the route that the FoWC seem to be heading down.

In the renewed Wardsend Cemetery, the surrounding community has a space in which they can learn, create and relax. Who knows, maybe even a place for teenagers to seek refuge from sports-obsessed siblings.

Some Introductions

I suppose some introductions are necessary, to both the new site and to me.

The Friends of Wardsend Cemetery have recently begun working with a group of MA students at the University of Sheffield. The group consists of me (Tom, a 22 year old Brummie in Sheffield for the year) and 4 others, whom you’re likely to be hearing from in the coming weeks.

The reason you’re hearing from me first is because I’ve been put in charge of making the new website. Which, although I’m not completely technophobic, has been a bit of a leap in the dark to say the least! I hope you guys enjoy the website’s look and feel, but do remember it is currently the digital equivalent of a construction site! One of the big changes will be this blog, where you can be kept up to date on all the goings-on by multiple authors.

So for the first blog post I wanted to talk about what I have done, am doing, and plan to do.

Wardsend’s old website has served us well, but unfortunately the BTCK domain host (the bit at the end of the website) is beginning to look a bit dated, so I’m moving the Friends over to WordPress.

We’ve gone for this swanky blue and grey colour scheme, courtesy of Katy Walton (another MA student), which you will also be seeing on new flyers and posters around Sheffield.

The Friend’s Group and people of Sheffield have already done a lot of great research on the cemetery and Sheffield’s history, and I’m not planning on getting rid of any of it, so don’t worry! I’m aiming to preserve as much content as I can from the old site, and just housing it in a new place.

However, you can expect some new research, and new pages on this website compared to the old one! In particular I’m including more stories of people buried in the cemetery, and more photographs.

Aside from research, domain hosts, and colour schemes though, my main aim is to make the site much easier to navigate and to find information. There will be a search bar to find specific information, and individual people and stories will have their own separate page which keeps things neat and easy to find!

I’m really intrigued to know what your thoughts are on both the new and the old website, so feel free to write comments underneath or on the Facebook group. This will be a website for everyone, so your opinions matter!