Early Friends could not be buried in consecrated ground such as churchyards because they were not baptised. That was one of the many ways in which they opposed the prevailing religious culture of the seventeenth century when they were founded. Most early Meetings acquired land for burials. These were marked by simple grave markers, bearing only the Friend’s name, date of birth and date of death, carved in a very plain style. Quakers regard everyone as equal in life and death, so no Friend is given extravagant praise for their virtues or achievements, and no decoration appears on the stones.
History See main page History of Quakers in Bath.
The historic Quaker burial ground is next to Bewdley House in Clarendon Road, off Widcombe Hill, Bath BA2 4NJ.
For access to the Quaker Burial Ground
To gain entry, there is a digital lock on the door. Contact us for the code. To use the lock, first press C then enter the code and turn the knob a quarter turn anti-clockwise. At the same time, pull the door forward and it will open. Access is through a double door. Opening the door with the digital lock gives relatively narrow access, so it may be helpful to have both doors open in order to widen the entrance. For wheelchair users, assistance would be needed to unbolt the second door. There is level access from the pavement and, inside the burial ground, there is a smooth, gently sloping, paved path. There are no toilet facilities.
Occasional Open Days are held at the Burial Ground. Please contact us for details.
There is restricted parking in Clarendon Road for residents only. However, if you have a Blue Badge for disabled parking, you may use this if you park within a parking bay. There is free parking on Widcombe Hill between The Tyning and Tyning End which is about 5-7 minutes walk away.
The Widcombe Burial Ground is a beautiful, tranquil garden. Burials no longer take place but it is used for the scattering of ashes and for occasional gatherings and meetings. Members and attenders of our meeting are remembered when their names are added to the Memorial tablets.
The Garden and its planting
The ground was overgrown until the mid 1970s, when it was cleared and replanted. Joan Berry, a horticulturist, who was a member of Bath Meeting, did some of the interesting planting. John and Eva Lewis, neighbours in Chapel Cottage above the Burial Ground, tended the garden lovingly for many years. They particularly encouraged flowering trees, and we are rewarded by profuse flowering when there has been a long, hot summer the previous year.
By the gate, as you enter, is a Staphylea, the bladdernut tree. It has been suffering from honey fungus but seems to be surviving. Along the lower wall are Portuguese laurels and a lime-tolerant Photinia with red leaves in spring. An unusual evergreen Eupatorium ligustrinum, the Incense Bush, is a fragrant shrub which is now flourishing here. It flowers around September, in company with the cyclamen.
In the middle of the garden there is a flowering cherry and a magnolia (M. stellata or maybe M. x Loebneri Leonard Messel). The magnolia has now succumbed to honey fungus and will have to be removed, as had already happened to the Judas Tree (Cercis Siliquastrum). Removing that tree opened up the area around the memorial tablets, behind which is an Amelanchier. This is a delightful shrub; showy both in spring with white flowers and in autumn with its coloured leaves.
In the far right corner are an evergreen holm oak (Quercus), a Philadelphus and some Solomon’s seal. In the far left corner is a very rare Paulownia (the Empress Tree from Turkey). Though long established it was only in 1996 that it flowered. In the raised bed along the upper wall, working back from the far left corner, are many plantings, including an edible fig, a golden yellow tree peony, a eucalyptus of Australian proportions, a hydrangea (velutina?) and a holly.
With bequests, numerous roses have been planted over the years. They include Canary Bird, Frühlingsgold, Blanc Double de Coubert, Paul’s Scarlet, Quaker Star, Peace and Alec’s Red. One Friend is remembered by the scattering of forget-me-nots and another by a fragrant Philadelphus.
The garden was home to a venerable tortoise called Jacob, who died in 2012.
In 2006, the high stone wall was repaired and, in 2007, the area inside the gate to the left was landscaped and paved. Planting has started with lavenders and roses and further planting of fragrant flowers is planned. Rose Rogers has greatly helped the Meeting in the work of developing the Burial Ground.
The Quaker burial ground is registered as a Quiet Garden. To find out more about the Quiet Garden Movement, visit their website.