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Sheffield's General Cemetery celebrates completion of four-year restoration project

Samuel Worth Chapel and headstones either side of path leading up to the chapel, Sheffield General Cemetery
Sheffield General Cemetery

Sheffield General Cemetery, one of Sheffield's most fascinating locations, celebrated the end of a four-year £3.8 million conservation and repair programme this summer and on 25th October there will be a gathering of those involved to acknowledge their invaluable support for this high-profile conservation project, and to celebrate Sheffield's heritage.

The conclusion of the project celebrates the General Cemetery’s significance as a heritage treasure – “Sheffield’s Highgate” - whilst protecting its value as a tranquil green space and important wildlife habitat close to the city.

Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, the Council carried out extensive structural repairs to the Cemetery’s famous catacombs, stabilised key monuments and provided support to the massive retaining walls which are now nearing 200 years old, ensuring the Cemetery can continue to be treasured and admired by future generations.

Representatives of The National Lottery Heritage Fund North Committee will visit the cemetery to meet the project team and trustees and volunteers from Sheffield General Cemetery Trust and will have the opportunity to visit the Cemetery, Then and Now exhibition and enjoy a guided tour of the works, particularly focussed on the extensive restoration of the Cemetery’s catacombs.

About the General Cemetery

Sheffield General Cemetery opened in 1836 as a municipal burial ground where people of Nonconformist religion could be buried according to their own custom.  It is an early and exceptionally complete example of the Garden Cemetery Movement, which used classically influenced architecture, sweeping paths and expansive vistas to create a place which went beyond being a functional burial ground to provide a contemplative space where visitors could reflect on the transience of life through the beauty of the natural world.  

Today it is a much-loved green oasis and also important as a wildlife site and the Cemetery will continue to be managed for heritage and biodiversity interest.  The successful completion of this project safeguards the Cemetery for the enjoyment of future generations.

The project has been delivered by the Council’s Parks and Countryside Service working closely with Sheffield General Cemetery Trust and residents. Most capital works are now finished, with the most significant change being to the catacombs which have been restored to their 1836 appearance, removing a substantial 20th century concrete addition. Four new accessible car parking spaces, to be located on Cemetery Avenue close to the Gatehouse, will complete the capital works in 2024.  

Councillor Richard Williams, Chair of Communities, Parks and Leisure Policy Committee at Sheffield City Council, said: “We are grateful to the National Lottery players for funding this complex repair and conservation project. I would like to thank all the people who worked together to successfully overcome unforeseen challenges and difficult times, such as delivery during the COVID pandemic to produce such a great result, which would not have been possible without the support of dedicated staff and volunteers from Sheffield General Cemetery Trust, The Friends of the General Cemetery (FOGC) and the contribution of the local community. Sheffield General Cemetery is a unique heritage space of which our city is rightly proud. This project has been one more step in the General Cemetery’s journey, I am sure there will be more to come.”

The Friends of the General Cemetery

The Friends of the General Cemetery (FOGC) was formed in 1989 by a handful of residents. Since then, this voluntary organisation has grown, and the Friends has now become the Sheffield General Cemetery Trust (SGCT). The Trust carries out many activities within the Cemetery including educational tours and workshops; conservation work to maintain and enhance the monuments, the landscape and the paths; historical research of the Cemetery and its occupants. The Trust also manages the recently restored Grade II* listed former Nonconformist chapel, which was renamed the Samuel Worth Chapel after its architect, and which is quickly becoming established as a popular venue for arts, music, and other cultural events.

Helen Featherstone, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “It is very exciting to see the completion of this fantastic project that has carefully restored Sheffield General Cemetery. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, local people, and those from further afield will be able to enjoy this unique heritage location for years to come. Conserving our public parks is a high priority of the Heritage Fund as we're committed to promoting environmentally sustainable heritage that increases people’s connection to nature and the world around them, and this project is a wonderful example of that.”

Dave Hunt, Chair of Sheffield General Cemetery Trust, said: “Completion of the significant repair and conservation works to the Cemetery Heritage Park has been eagerly awaited by the 95 volunteers and staff of Sheffield General Cemetery Trust, the organisation originally set up by residents almost 35 years ago to start the enormous task of bringing the Cemetery back from dereliction. We are looking forward to building on the great work resulting from the Sheffield City Council Parks for People project and are very grateful to people buying National Lottery tickets who provided much of the funding. We are delighted to see the historic and well-loved site secured for visitors for long into the future.”

In 2018, Sheffield City Council was awarded over £3 million, jointly funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund’s Parks for People Programme. This was part of a four-year £3.8 million programme of investment to safeguard Sheffield General Cemetery as a heritage rich, biodiverse, public park close to the city centre. It is one of the most complete examples of a Garden Cemetery in the UK. The Cemetery closed to burials in 1978, and is now a designated Local Nature Reserve, a green oasis close to the heart of the city.

Find out more at or follow on Facebook: @Sheffield General Cemetery Instagram: @SheffieldGeneralCemeteryTrust and Twitter: @SheffieldGenCem

For more information
  • The National Lottery’s Parks for People programme is jointly funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.
  • Since 1996, more than £950million raised by National Lottery players has been used to support the regeneration, conservation and increased enjoyment of public parks and cemeteries across the UK. 
  • Using money raised by the National Lottery, The National Lottery Heritage Fund inspires, leads, and resources the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund
  • Since The National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £43 billion for projects and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across the UK. More than £30 million raised each week goes to good causes across the UK.
  • On 29 January 2019, the Big Lottery Fund became known as The National Lottery Community Fund. As the largest funder of community activity in the UK, the Community Fund is proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across the UK. Follow @TNLComFund on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.