First used in 1859, the Town Council became responsible for St Andrew’s Cemetery in 1975. In 1995 the Council created a woodland burial section and a pet cemetery was established in 1996. On average, there are two burials a week. The Council has held the Green Flag Award since 2018/19.
St Andrew’s Cemetery, owned by the Council, is situated on the west road leading from Hexham towards Haydon Bridge and Carlisle on the B6531 and is about 1½ miles from the centre of the town. There is a bus stop outside the main gates on the Hexham, Haltwhistle and Carlisle route.
The Cemetery first opened for burials in 1859. Originally there were two Chapels, one for burial services under the established Church of England, the other for other religions. Now only one Chapel, the western one, is used for burial services and the other Chapel is used for storage.
A comprehensive history of the Cemetery, including biographies of some of those buried in the original part and an index to monumental inscriptions there, is detailed in a 67 page booklet “Hexham Cemetery: A Place of Charm and Historic Interest” by David and Ruth Jennings (Hexham Local History Society Occasional Publication No 4 ISBN 0 9527615 4 8). Copies of this booklet are available from the Town Council office.
The Cemetery was last enlarged around 1972 when extra land to the west was acquired and this land is now in use. It is expected the present land will be sufficient for about 15 more years.
A plan of the Cemetery can be found here.
In 2018 the Cemetery was given the Green Flag Award to show it has a good management plan, high environmental standards, good visitor facilities, and is beautifully maintained.
From April 2020 these are the 2020-2021 Cemetery Charges and Rules.
Please remember the Standard Charge is applicable for anyone who does not live within the Hexham Parish boundary. This is usually more than the charge for a Parish resident as the Council is only able to raise its expenditure from the Council Tax payers of Hexham, so Hexham Council Tax payers pay lower fees.
HEADSTONES & MEMORIALS
A few years ago a child was killed at a cemetery when playing and since then many burial authorities have worried about what they can do to prevent such a tragedy happening again. Headstones erected in the past were often left, or became, dangerous but you can be assured that every single headstone throughout Hexham Cemetery has been checked and if needs be has been made safe. For a number of years the Council has been carrying out a repair programme so all the headstones that were once considered dangerous have been made safe. A continuing inspection (and repair) programme of all memorials and headstones ensures they will remain safe.
Hexham Town Council was the first Council in Northumberland to design a specification to ensure every new memorial in its Cemetery is erected in a manner that ensures it will remain safe in the future. All memorials now have to be designed to agree with the Council’s memorial fixing specification. There is an under-surface reinforced concrete foundation adjoining the grave plots and the memorial/headstone is fixed to this foundation using a specially designed and patented ‘shoe’ that ensures the memorial/headstone will not lean, fall or move in any way. This fixing system also makes it very easy to remove the memorial/headstone whenever additional inscriptions are to be added to it in the future.
Every monumental mason permitted to carry out any work in the Cemetery has to abide by the Council’s rules and its memorial fixing specification which ensures every new memorial complies and this means safe and secure memorials in the future.
The Council has a fairly relaxed viewpoint about the design of memorials and although permission has to be requested for all memorials, no reasonable design will be refused. However, the size of a headstone must not exceed 1.22m in width.
Kerbing, once common around grave plots, is no longer allowed as the currently used section of the Cemetery is a lawned area, cut with modern mower machinery and grave kerbs give problems with maintenance.
The wildlife at the Cemetery love fresh flowers and may eat them, although they do not like some varieties as much. If you use artificial flowers please note that if and when they become faded and discoloured they will be removed and disposed of by our staff.
No decorations are allowed on any graves. Please assist the Council and keep the Cemetery a place for everyone to enjoy the peace and tranquil surroundings. Any sentimental item on a plot must be placed on the apron of the headstone/ memorial, not on the grave itself.
If you have difficulty in accessing any part of the Cemetery let any member of our staff know and they will be pleased to assist. A wheelchair, access ramps and disabled toilet are available and permission to access most areas by car can be arranged.
The Council is always happy to consider any suggestions for the better management of the Cemetery so please send them to us at the Council Offices, St Andrew’s Cemetery, West Road, Hexham, NE46 3RR. Hexham Cemetery is a place for your pleasant memories so please help us to help you enjoy your visits. We cannot promise to act on every suggestion but will consider every suggestion made.
If you have a complaint please tell the Council. First of all speak with the Operations Manager but if he does not provide you with a satisfactory response then write to the Council at the address above.
Ask any member of the Cemetery staff and they will be happy to show you the various sections in the Cemetery and try to answer any of your questions.
The Cemetery is open to visitors every day between 8.00am and 6.00pm (or dusk if earlier). At weekends there is no access for vehicles though vehicular access may be possible if staff are available and provided you contact the Operations Manager at least 48 hours before access is required.
The Operations Manager is normally available Monday to Friday (Bank Holidays excepted) between 8.00am and 3.00pm by telephoning 07891 101236.
Woodland burials are available at St Andrew’s Cemetery in Hexham.
The charge for a woodland burial is inclusive in that it includes the burial casket and the grave marker stone as well as the digging and filling in of the grave. You can add your own engraving on the marker stone and you can use your own burial casket so long as it is made of natural material, such as timber or even cardboard. The burial caskets the Council provides are made from bamboo. No plastics, resins, MDF, chipboard or similar materials are allowed in woodland burial caskets and no embalming for any burials in the woodland area. If you do not use the Council supplied burial casket you must obtain permission before using another type of material for your own burial casket.
Please note that there is no reduction in the charge for any type of woodland burial even if the Council does not supply or provide every item covered by the charge.
Your family can carry out the funeral themselves: the Council will dig and fill in the plot and you carry out the burial in any way you choose. We have had one funeral hearse that was the family estate car. The Council has to supervise any informal burial to ensure everyone carries it out in safety but the rest is up to you.
However, most families still employ an undertaker. There are many in the Hexham area and all are familiar with our woodland burial scheme.
The Council plants more trees in the woodland area every year, usually a broad leaf English variety. You can donate a tree if you wish and your family could attend the tree planting if they wish to make a little ceremony of it. But the Council decides where all trees are planted and please note trees are not planted to mark a burial.
A woodland burial plot is size 3.66m by 1.22m. Only a single burial is allowed in a woodland burial plot so if another family member or members are to be buried nearby you must purchase the adjoining plot(s) at the same time. One advantage of this is that there is no additional cost in the future as the charge, which includes the casket and a marker stone, is already paid whenever the adjoining plot is needed. Ashes may also be buried at a reduced charge provided they are buried in the section that has been set aside.
There may be a reduced charge for the burial of the body or ashes of a child (under 12 years) provided it is in the area set aside for child burials. Thankfully such burials are rare which is why no child size caskets are stocked but one can be provided if at least five working days notice is given that a child size casket is needed.
You are welcome to plant bulbs at a woodland grave but no decorations are allowed. Please assist the Council and keep the woodland area a place for everyone to enjoy its peace and tranquility.
Unfortunately, some rules are needed but we do try to make as few as possible. These are the main ones:
The standard depth of a grave is 1.55m. For every additional 0.3m of depth there is an additional charge. A standard depth grave can only be used for one burial. An extra deep grave is usually requested when it is expected another family member is to be buried in the same plot later. You can usually also purchase the adjoining plot but this is not always possible. It depends upon the site requested, ground conditions, etc.
To purchase the grave plot there is an additional charge and the purchase means the plot is yours for the next 99 years. If the plot is not purchased it may be used again in the future without notice to you or your family and they cannot erect any memorial/headstone. If they do purchase the plot they can then erect a memorial/headstone but they have to pay a charge which gives permission for the memorial/headstone to be sited there for the next 30 years. This period is renewable ad infinitum but the Council inspects the memorial/headstone regularly to ensure it is safe. If it is found on an inspection not to be in a safe condition then it must immediately be made safe or the Council will have to remove it.
SOME GENERAL RULES
The Council acts under the Local Authorities Cemetery Order 1977 (as amended). In any matter relating to the Cemetery, the Council’s decision is final.
The Council can prune or remove any plant, shrub, grass or tree without notice or compensation if it considers it necessary for the good order and running of the Cemetery.
Vehicles and dogs (which must be held on a lead) are not permitted in the Cemetery without the prior permission of the Council.
St Andrew’s Cemetery has been designated Grade ll on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.
English Heritage’s principal reasons for designation are:
Historic interest: it is a relatively early example of a ‘Burial Board Cemetery’ which embodies reformers’ ideas on burial provision.
Intactness: the original cemetery, including its planting scheme, remains largely intact despite extensions to the west which do not detract from its historic interest.
Design Quality: its design is an early and good example of the work of Archibald Matthias Dunn, a Catholic architect well regarded in the north of England.
Group Value: it retains a full suite of well-preserved buildings of high quality by Dunn, including twin chapels, twin entrance lodges and gates (Listed Grade II).
Local Distinctiveness: it has a good range of monuments reflecting Hexham’s social and economic history.
Researching your family tree
Burial records for St Andrew’s Cemetery go back to 1859. Before that date you need to search Church Parish Records and other sources. Northumberland County Council Archive Office also has many records and papers. For all research in Northumberland please contact the Northumberland County Council Archive Office.