“Understanding yesterday, for the benefit of  today and tomorrow”

© 2005-2018, 2019  All Rights Reserved  Kibworth History Society and W.G.Weston

A Brief History of Kibwoth Cemetry and the Joint Burial Board

By the early nineteenth century many churchyards in large towns were becoming full or over-crowded. That, coupled with the demand from non-conformists and other dissenters who did not want to be interred in Anglican graveyards, contributed to the national need for public cemeteries.  The first was at Norwich in 1819.

Kibworth’s graveyards at St. Wilfrid’s and the Congregational Chapel coped with burials far longer than the graveyards at Norwich and it was not until the late 1880s that a need for additional burial space became apparent. The possibility of extending the graveyard at St. Wilfrid’s was discussed at Vestry meetings during 1891, but was rejected. Eventually, at a meeting of ratepayers held on 29th February 1892 at the Village Hall it was decided that several sites should be examined with the intention of purchasing the most suitable for use as a joint burial ground for the two parishes.


The first meeting of the Burial Board, on 8th March 1892, comprised: Rev. Charles Henry Thomas Cruttwell (Chairman), Rev. Edmund Hipwood, (Congregation Minister), Mr. William Henry Ward, Mr. George Reginald King, and Mr. William Harcourt Lovell Clare, with J.S.Dickinson, secretary.  The Rev. John Newman (Methodist Minister) and Mr. William Horton were absent from this first meeting, due to illness, when the secretary was instructed to "enquire from the owners of the following lands whether they are willing to sell from 2 to 4 acres for a Cemetery and if so at what price:-

1. Two fields on the Leicester Road belonging to the Oddfellows Friendly Society. F.Hill. Secretary.

2. Field opposite the Gas Works belonging to the Representatives of Robert Hames, deceased - Messrs Benson Solicitors.

3. Allotment land between the Railway and Harborough Road belonging to Hames' representatives.

4. Arable field, Harborough Road, occupied by Mr. Coleman belonging to Merton College.

5. Land in Smeeton Road, part of the Moss Farm belonging to Dr. Bateman and occupied by Mr. Clare.

6. Land in Fleckney Road belonging to Dr. Bateman occupied by Mr. Clare.

7. Land in Fleckney Road forming part of the Conservative Land Society Estate".


These sites were narrowed down to the Merton College land, offered at £750, and the allotments owned by Mrs. Hames at the 5th April 1892 meeting. The clerk was instructed to ascertain the price that Mrs. Hames would be prepared to sell, and to report at the next meeting (19th April 1892).

At this next meeting the clerk reported that Mrs. Hames was prepared to sell two and a half acres of her land for £575. The clerk was instructed to ascertain whether Mrs. Hames would be prepared to sell two and a half acres  "taken from about the middle of the field running parallel with the Harborough Road".

Also at this meeting, Caleb Atkinson, a local reporter, applied for permission to attend the meetings and to report on the meetings in the press. The board declined the request.

By the next meeting, 3rd May 1892, no reply had been received from Mrs. Hames solicitors, but a letter had been received from Dr. Marriott offering some of his land fronting the Harborough Road at £150 an acre. This land, fields 186 & 187, is opposite New Road, where the annual Scout bonfire used to be held. The board decided that Dr. Marriott’s field and Merton College's field should be subject to survey by A.J.Draper the Diocesan Surveyor, "as to their suitability for a Cemetery having regard to the nature of the sub-soil and the facilities for drainage".

At the meeting of 5th May 1892, the Board agreed to borrow money from the Public Works Loan Commissioner, or otherwise, for the purchase of the land and the works required.  

Draper's reports were presented to the board on 24th May 1892, recommending a portion of Dr. Marriott's land. Mr. Clare proposed: "that the Board negotiate for the purchase of the site belonging to Dr. Marriott and recommended in the Report". For reason(s) not stated in the minutes, this proposal was not seconded. Instead, it was proposed by Mr. Horton, seconded by the Rev. E. Hipwood and carried with one dissentient: "That the clerk be authorised to take the necessary steps for carrying out the purchase of the field belonging to the College subject to the approval of the Secretary of State and the Vestry of the United Parishes". A vote was taken and again for reasons not stated in the minutes, the board decided to enter into negotiations to purchase the Merton College site.

The purchase money was to be paid into an account at the Bank of England entitled: “The Account of the Board of Agriculture Exparte Merton College Oxford in the matter of the Universities and College Estates Act 1858 to 1880”.

A draft contract to purchase 4 acres 3 roods and 28 perches of land from Merton College was accepted at the meeting of the Burial Board held on 25th June 1892. This decision was placed before a Vestry Meeting of Ratepayers of the United Parishes of Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt on 4th July 1892, where the voting was 15 for the motion and 7 against, whereupon a Mr. Marris and Dr. Marriott demanded a Poll of the Ratepayers.

At the meeting of 11th October 1892, it was proposed:  "That there should be only one building erected on the Burial Ground and that such building be a Lychgate on the unconsecrated part". It was also proposed that two thirds of the Burial Ground should be consecrated and one third unconsecrated. Both proposals were adjourned for estimates.

At the meeting of 1st November 1892 Mr. Coleman, the occupier of the Merton College field was awarded £26-10s-0d (£26.50p) compensation for loss of the field.

3rd January 1893. Charles Edward Hare, manager of the Leicester branch of the Stamford, Spalding & Boston Banking Company Ltd., was appointed treasurer.

The Lords of the Treasury sanctioned the loan, now increased to £2,000.

Tenders were received as follows:

Contract 1 for Levelling & Draining: £202 to £398, was awarded to Edward Mason of Kibworth.

Contract 2 for Making & Fixing wrought iron fencing, entrance gates etc £175 to £290, also awarded to Edward Mason.

Contract 3 for the Lychgate £408 to £675-15s-0d (£675.75p), was awarded to Mr Haycock of Great Glen.

Tenders 1 & 3 were withdrawn. Edward Mason submitted revised tenders of £235 for Contract 1 and £413 for Contract 3. These were accepted.

A Deed was sealed on 20th April 1893 for an annuity of £108-14s-11d (£108.75p) per annum for 30 years to secure £2000-0s-0d and interest of 3.5% p.a. The money was borrowed from the Prudential Assurance Company Ltd.

The site was eventually purchased on 10th May 1893 for £750.

An alphabetical list of all interments at Kibworth Cemetery, from its opening in 1893 until 21st Dec 2000, is available by following this