Quaker Burial Ground
5 April 2010. Gates to the Quaker Burial ground found to be unlocked. Daffodils in profusion.
As many St Augustine's residents will know, apart from a trial period between March and August 2009, the Quaker Burial Ground at the bottom of Chatham Street has been locked and inaccessible to the general public since the summer of 2008. This has been a disappointment to local people as well as vistors to the area, as this was a lovely place to walk, a green oasis of calm as well as being historically very interesting.
It's not as though we have so many such places in north Norwich that we can ignore losing access to one of them.
We understand from Community Support Police officers who partol this area that the reason it had to be locked was an increase in anti-social behaviour there, in particular drug abuse. Unfortunately, locking the gate does not seem to have completely solved the problem as sharps (hypodermic needles used by intravenous drug users) are still being found inside the locked cemetery.
ACT is campaigning to have this rare and beautiful green space opened to the public again as soon as possible, in the belief that barring entry the Quaker Burial Ground to law-abiding citizens simply makes the place more attractive to those looking for hidden, secluded places to carry on their anti-social activities unobserved who are not put off by a mere locked gate.
Approaches to the Society of Friends (Quakers) to reconsider their decision to lock the Burial Ground have been made on SACTRA's behalf by Mancroft Councillor Tom Dylan and Community Support Police Officers of the West Centre Safer Neighbourhood Team. We hope that between them they can come up with ways of making the Quaker Burial Ground open once again and safer.
For more on the history of the Quaker Burial Ground click here.
Report in Norwich Evening News,
9 February 2009:
Calls have been made for a cemetery to be reopened to members of the public after fears it has become a haven for drug users since it was closed up.
A decision was made last year to lock the gates at Gildencroft Quaker Cemetery, a historic cemetery in Chatham Street, Norwich, after reports of anti-social behaviour.
But now concerns have been raised that by barring people from passing through the cemetery, junkies are able to use it undisturbed.
Stuart McLaren, secretary of the St Augustine's Community Together Residents Association, said: “It was quite a serene place to wander in, a very nice quiet oasis of green with squirrels there and everything.
“The Quakers locked the gates last year. They said they had too much anti-social behaviour. We thought it was a pity because we don't have many green spaces in Norwich.
“Someone who has access to the place found a lot of sharps. It's disgusting, especially so close to where children are. It's terrible.
“I think in my opinion, locking the gates makes the situation worse. Law-abiding people cannot get in there so it becomes a lonely, isolated place.”
The cemetery dates back to the 1650s and was where many of the city's Quakers were buried including the writer Amelia Opie. Many members of the Gurney family - who had a major influence on the development of Norwich - were also buried there.
Tom Dylan, Green Party city councillor for the ward, said he would like to the site to be reopened as a public amenity, but not if that led to more anti-social behaviour.
A spokeswoman for the Quaker group said they wanted to reopen the burial ground as soon as possible, but did not want to encourage more anti-social behaviour.
The local Safer Neighbourhood Team has been made aware of the problem and all interested parties are working together to find a solution.
Calls to reopen the cemetery and to claim it back from anti-social behaviour fits in with the Evening News' Reclaim Our Communities campaign which calls on families to take pride in where they live.