The old Folkestone cemetery – an oblong slice of land running alongside the railway track contains around 15,000 plots. Given some plots have been reused 2 or 3 times this means there around 27,000 people buried there. The cemetery is made up of 30 sections, to the right are consecrated plots, to the left are unconsecrated plots, with some consecrated at the far left.
Apart from huge mature yew trees once planted, or smaller self-seeded trees, there are no identifying landmarks to help locate individual graves – plots are numbered, and unless you know if a plot you are looking for is consecrated or unconsecrated you will be on a wild goose chase.
We often help families to find their relatives graves because it is not easy especially as many have never had headstones, or the headstone may have fallen and is now covered over in earth and grass.
Our ‘Friends’ volunteer group are excellent at finding their way around the cemetery – and their range of skills is also excellent. We have volunteers who just want to work alone quietly clearing scrubby growth away from plots, we have others who are great at researching family history, and some that locate headstone that may be under inches of earth which they uncover and clean up to lay it neatly on the grave. Real teamwork.
James, one of our members, had the great idea to create virtual cemetery maps on Google to help people who are looking for a grave but perhaps can’t visit in person. James has put together a number of virtual maps (using Google My Maps) for our cemetery, this involved finding the location for each corner of the 30 sections, then adding equally spaced markers for the number of graves in each row.
Because there are so many graves, the map is split into ten smaller maps to limit the number of markers that appear on each map. For each person there is a link to their Find A Grave memorial and for each grave there is a link to an Ancestry search. The markers are coloured to show whether the grave is unmarked, has a photo, is shared (and unlikely to have a headstone), has not been recorded yet, or is unused. All the virtual maps are hyperlinked from our website (http://www.fofc.uk/links-to-burial-plots/)
Carole, Karl and Stephen are currently working to put a photo of every existing gravestone on the Find A Grave memorial for that person, and they have completed over half of the graves so far. James has also created Google virtual maps for various groups: notable people, CWG’s, Military people, etc.
Lockdown has not been easy for anyone, but it has not stopped our volunteers, who are always working within social distance guidelines, from doing some excellent work.