‘Disgusting, the worst anywhere’

Mark Harrison and Lily Queen who are appalled at the state of Hinderwell's children's cemetery
Mark Harrison and Lily Queen who are appalled at the state of Hinderwell's children's cemetery

A FIERCE row has erupted over the maintenance of Hinderwell children’s cemetery.

The quiet corner of the graveyard at Hinderwell has not seen a new funeral for many years, but the parents of some infants buried on the site still visit on a regular basis and say they are appalled that the plot has been allowed to become so overgrown.

Lily Queen has two infant children buried on the site, one stillborn and another a single twin who lived for only four days.

She said: “We come up here every Sunday just to look at nettles.

“I wouldn’t bury a pet dog up here, this is the worst cemetery anywhere.

“My other daughter, the twin that survived, she thinks it’s disgusting.

“She cries when she comes up as it’s her twin that’s buried there and she gets really upset at the state of the plot.

“She’s only been up once and she won’t come again.”

The current steward of the site, parish clerk Penny Fenton, said that until recently she was not even aware of the existence of the children’s cemetery, instead believing it to be a boundary between the graveyard and the agricultural fields beyond.

Mrs Fenton said: “It was only three years ago when I found out just how appalling the records are.

“I can’t take responsibility for records 50 years ago and if I don’t have the information there’s nothing I can do about it.”

She added that the poor maintenance of the area was due to a lack of funding: “We have got £7,000 a year, and it costs £12,000 to maintain the cemeteries.

“The older parts which are rarely visited we manage purely for the benefit of wildlife areas.

“All you have to do is put in a burial request and the area will be cleared on the day in question.”

Mark Harrison, of Skelton, spoke on behalf of his grandmother, who has visited the grave of her infant son every weekend for 40 years.

Her husband died in October 2010 and his final wish was for his ashes to be scattered over his son’s grave, but the family held off doing this until the area is restored.

He said: “Years ago this used to be a marvellous cemetery.

“My nanna’s walked up here every weekend for the last 40 years and she can tell you that it’s never been cleared.

“Regardless of whether there’s a burial, it’s the only children’s cemetery.

“There are babies here and it’s not that big, so it should be maintained.

The maintenance of Hinderwell cemetery is the responsibility of Hinderwell Parish Council, which currently employs one site attendant.

An alternative proposal could be the formation of a Friends of Hinderwell Cemetery group, such as the Friends of Dean Road and Manor Road Cemetery group in Scarborough, which would volunteer to take responsibility for the maintenance of the cemetery and help build up a more accurate plan of grave plots.