Derelict cemetery chapel returns from the dead
Walker Cunnington Architects for Sheffield General Cemetery Trust, Sheffield
Sheffield General Cemetery was envisioned as ‘citadel’ for the dead when it opened in 1836 with Samuel Worth’s monumental Egypto-Greek, Doric Chapel grade at the centre of its shady quarry site. Grade II* listed and on the Heritage At Risk Register since 1988, the chapel was vandalised and boarded up, in a state of dereliction like its long closed cemetery. The friends of the cemetery, now a trust, has been maintaining the site landscape and restoring the gatehouse for offices and, with the support of the owner, Sheffield City Council parks department, and the local community, started looking for new uses for the chapel. Cunnington Architects was appointed by the trust as conservation architect for the detailed design and implementation.
The project involved restoring the building and introducing new services (water, electricity and drainage), fabric repairs and facilities to enable its use for community activities. The capital cost of the works was achieved for just £220,000 with grant aid from the Challenge Fund. As a result, the trust has been able to increase the number of walks, tours, events and festivals and attract an extra income stream, with bookings already having been taken. The trust sees the refurbished chapel as an enabling strategy to develop engagement, but it has also been the catalyst for a successful HLF Park for People initiative for a major restoration of the cemetery.