During the late 1900’s it was not uncommon practice in the UK to remove a stillborn baby, or a baby which died shortly in those first minutes or hours, from the parents shortly after the birth. Often the parents were not told where their little one was taken because it was thought in those days that it would only upset them more.
This was true of stillborn babies born at Royal Victoria Hospital, Folkestone – it was thought to be a kindness. This is not common practice nowadays where there is a much greater understanding of how parents need to grieve.
In Folkestone these stillborn un-named babies would be taken unofficially to Cheriton Cemetery where they would be buried at the foot of an open adult grave if there was one open at the time. Where there was no open grave these stillborn babies were buried without any formal ceremony in a piece of land at the side of the Resting House. Going back further to the late 1800’s during times of great poverty or disease dead babies were occasionally left on the beach or at the cemetery gates – these found dead babies would also be buried without formal ceremony.
Years after, sadly if the parents enquired about their lost baby – they would have been unlikely to find anyone who knew where the final resting place was – as there would have been no grave or headstone to mark the place and no record of the death either.
As we gradually move out of Covid lockdown restrictions the Friends of Folkestone Cemetery volunteer group will be working to raise funds to create a small hedged garden of remembrance for these special babies at the side of the Resting House – offering a peaceful and lovely place for still grieving parents to visit.
If you have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth please be reassured that this does not happen now – parents are always involved in decisions about what happens to their ‘born sleeping’ baby (https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/your-feelings/marking-your-loss/)
A fundraising page has been set up on; Justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bornsleeping