Friends of Folkestone Cemetery – How We Started

Written by Margaret Care and published in Autumn 2022 edition of GoFolkestone publication

The group started in 2014 – it grew from two people attending the annual service held each 11th November in Folkestone Old Cemetery (Cheriton Road) and following it up the next day by visiting to have a walk around what was at this time a somewhat neglected cemetery. It was at the same time that I and a local historian were also visiting in an attempt to locate the graves of 53 of the Air Raid casualties known to be buried here. Jan and Richard also homed in to the grave of William Norris and his family, William at 11 months was the youngest Air Raid Victim buried in this Cemetery.

Somewhat affected by the general state of the Cemetery Jan and Richard decided to gather a group together to put some loving care into it, and so “Friends of Folkestone Cemetery” was born. In addition to tidying some of the very overgrown graves, the group carried out research on some of the more notable characters and interesting-looking graves. From there grew the website, facebook page, and an informal get-together each Saturday morning (weather permitting).

By far the largest project undertaken within these walls is the digitising and uploading to the Find a Grave site of 25,000+ names of all those either buried, ashes interred and even those buried elsewhere who are remembered on family gravestones. The bulk of this work was carried out by just one member, (with support from a few others) who together with a very tech savvy son-in-law has produced a detailed map of the graves which can be viewed on our website. Using this and our other maps and plans, we have helped many family members locate previously “missing” ancestors.

Our newest project is the creation of “The White Garden” During the course of our research we learned that it was believed that the strip of land running beside the old mortuary towards the Folkestone side was home to some of the stillborn (now referred to as born sleeping) babies buried there in unmarked plots. We made a decision to create a garden here to remember all those babies who were not given a funeral and whose families were in years gone by enouraged to “forget and move on” Members have cleared, weeded, created beds, sowed seeds, planted plants and thanks to donations we have been able to provide a bench-seat and have an information board prepared giving details of the garden.

We were also pleased to discover earlier this year that “our” Cemetery would be given trees to be planted – first said to be for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and now of course they are a memorial to our late Queen. The inclusion of these trees has meant that we now see extra people from Go Folkestone and others who are part of the “Green Gang watering group”

So from four people initially walking around an overgrown Cemetery we now have weekly work going on – Tree watering – Weeding – Planting – Watering and general garden care – research – gravestone cleaning – dealing with search requests and member Karl is currently writing up his findings relating to research on the original building(s) in the cemetery.

We are a small friendly group and would love to see new faces join us – just call into the Cemetery on Saturday mornings – – you will find a friendly welcome and something that will interest you I am sure.

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