Help needed to uncover flat headstones in abandoned Northampton lunatic asylum graveyard

Volunteers are needed to help uncover dozens of gravestones in an abandoned graveyard for the old St Crispin Hospital in Northampton.

Monday, 15th July 2019, 5:23 pm
Sandra Bemrose is looking for people to help her uncover gravestones at the old St Crispin Hospital chapel

A patch of grass behind what used to be the lunatic asylum's chapel on St Crispin Drive is thought to contain up to 100 graves but the only sign is a handful of barely visible flat gravestones.

They date from between 1948 and 1960, but there seems to be little record of who is buried there and who is meant to be looking after the site, but the grass is still being cut.

Sandra Bemrose, who wrote a book about the former hospital, is looking for people to help her uncover all of the gravestones in the hope of potentially finding any relatives.

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Sandra Bemrose is looking for people to help her uncover gravestones at the old St Crispin Hospital chapel

"There's approximately seven or eight rows of 15 flat gravestones per row which makes it just under 100 graves here," she said.

"The first one we uncovered was 1949 and it goes up mostly in the 1950s and the last one I uncovered was 1960.

"I could really do with some help with some volunteers to help clear all the grass so that we can actually have a look at the names, publish the names, and see if we can get in touch with any of the relatives so they know where their loved ones are buried."

Visible names on the gravestones include M. Line, Peasnell, Buckey and Nicks, with varying dates on.

Four of the visible gravestones behind the old St Crispin Hospital chapel

St Crispin's opened in 1876 and closed in 1995, so there would have been a lot of deaths during that time and this graveyard would not have been the only one, but it is directly behind t he chapel, which is now used by the Greek Orthodox Church.

Another grave is thought to have been in a neighbouring field, where all that was used to mark the graves were small signs.

Mrs Bemrose said a consultant once ordered for the signs to be removed and a few were found in a shed.

"You like to think you're grandfather, Mr Peasnell or Mr Line, was buried here and no one ever bothered to look after it? People make such a thing about taking flowers to the graveyard," she said.

Mrs Bemrose has uncovered a few gravestones herself but needs help to do the whole graveyard - anyone interested should email her at [email protected]

Her book, St Crispin Hospital 1876-1995: Memories From Staff, Past & Present, is also available by contacting her.