Volunteers 'work like Trojans' to uncover 200 forgotten gravestones at old Northampton mental hospital

Volunteers have been thanked for 'working like Trojans' to uncover around 200 forgotten gravestones at a former hospital in Northampton.

Monday, 2nd September 2019, 5:44 pm
Volunteers hard at work uncovering headstones at the old St Crispin Hospital chapel. Photo: Hayley Potts

A team of people have spent the past few Saturdays poking the ground to search for headstones, digging them out and cleaning them up behind the old chapel of St Crispin Hospital.

Sandra Bemrose, who has written a book about the one-time asylum near Upton, hailed everyone who answered her call for help to recover the neglected graves.

"They worked like Trojans. I think it was very successful as we have uncovered gravestones that hopefully will help some relatives to find where their relatives are buried," she said.

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How the deeper headstones looked after being dug up. Photo: Hayley Potts

In July, Sandra asked volunteers to help her figure out how many gravestones were in a patch of grass behind the chapel on St Crispin Drive as many were overgrown.

They braved the heat, the wind and the rain to find the headstones in the first plot, as well as another load of graves in the adjacent patch of grass, previously thought to be empty.

Some were so deep that after the names were recorded, the holes had to be refilled or it would be a safety hazard.

But Sandra now has the full list of everyone with a headstone buried, with years of death ranging from 1949 to 1975, and names ranging from Lea to Kwasniewski.

Sandra Bemrose in the neglected graveyard

"What needs to happen now is to get an amount of money to raise the graves above the level of the grass so when the council mows it, they don't mow over it and cover it up again," she said.

Anyone interested in knowing more about the headstones or to donate, email Sandra at [email protected]