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Bromsgrove Cemetery Walk

Welcome to the Bromsgrove Cemetery Walk

The Bromsgrove Cemetery was built in 1858. Over the last six years the Bromsgrove Society has been working in association with the District Council and other historical and heritage organisations to refurbish the John Adams Memorial at the centre of the Cemetery, which had to be taken down for reasons of safety. Following a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and many generous donations, the Memorial is now fully restored and has been re-erected in its original position.

This website describes the history of the Cemetery and explains the restoration project. It also describes some of the many other historic memorials in the Cemetery which can be seen on a recently created Bromsgrove Cemetery Walk.

 See also our list of War Graves in Bromsgrove Cemeteries. Further information is available at the CWGC website.


History of Bromsgrove Cemetery

In December 1855 a meeting was held in the Town Hall to decide whether a new burial ground should be provided. The vicar, the Reverend Mr Villers was in the chair; the proposal was made by Mr George Dipple and seconded by Mr A. Huxley. A  Burial Board was subsequently set up and in May 1856 it was decided to purchase six acres of glebe land from the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, which had previously been leased to the Baroness Windsor.

The architect chosen was Mr C.H. Cooke of John St., Bedford Row, London. The building work was done by Mr Walker of Evesham and the groundwork by Messrs Cole and Sharpe, for the total sum of just over £2,504. Burials were discontinued in St John's churchyard and in the Baptists', Wesleyans' (Methodists), and Independent burial grounds on 31 December1856. Bromsgrove Cemetery was consecrated by the Bishop of Worcester in January 1858, with many of the local clergy attending. Berrows Journal reported "A number of persons had congregated to witness the ceremony but principally the labouring classes and children".

The Bromsgrove Cemetery Walk

cemetery walk

The new cemetery was laid out in the latest fashion with paths running mostly at right angles. It was praised by the Journal of Civil Engineers and Architects, 1858. The lodge had extremely striking features in red brick with Bath stone dressing, roofed with red and blue tiles in bands. The lodge was replaced in 1958 but the lych gate remains.


John Adams 1766-1858

John Adams was born at Ashby de La Zouch and was apprenticed to a Leicester hosier. It was in Leicester in 1788 that Adams' sister, Jane, met and married a young clergyman from Lancaster ca lled Robert Housman. At this time the leading hosiers of Leicester were experimenting with new spinning machinery based on Arkwright's Water Frame. Major industrial disturbances in Leicester in 1788 persuaded one hosier, John Coltman, to spin his yarn well away from Leicestershire. He sent his young partner, John Adams, to Worcestershire to manage the spinning frames in Bromsgrove's former cotton mill. There was no opposition to the new machinery in Bromsgrove and the mill was to employ 150 men, women and children, making John Adams the largest employer in the town. The remains of the huge millpond are still a feature of Bromsgrove's Sanders Park, (see No. 4 on the walk).

John Adams lived at Perry Hall, the large house on the Kidderminster Road which is now part of Bromsgrove School. The ruins of an older house in the garden were converted into a dye works by Adams. Initially it was run by his nephew John Housman. Adams was the the prime mover in the Bromsgrove Volunteers and used the title of Captain. After his first wife Dorothy and infant son died in 1796, John Adams was left without an heir, so he promoted the careers of his sister Jane's three sons John, William and Thomas Housman. The youngest, Thomas Housman, became the first Vicar of Catshill in 1838. John Adams married again in 1835 to a widow, Kezia Ramsden, at Halifax. She was the sister of his friend Isaac Buxton.

John Adams died at Perry Hall in 1858, and Kezia died the following year. After her death the Rev. Thomas Housman's son, Edward, by this time a Bromsgrove solicitor, moved into Perry Hall. It was here that Edward Housman's son, Alfred Edward Housman, grew up. He was to write the famous collection of poems entitled 'A Shropshire Lad', which was first published in 1896. Perry Hall is now named Housman Hall in honour of the poet.

John Adams Memorial

Memorial May2013

At the central point of the Cemetery was the Cemetery Cross, erected to the memory of John Adams, who died on 7th January 1858, by his nephew Rev. Thomas Housman, incumbent of Catshill, and Dr. John Day Collis (see No.1 on the walk), headmaster of Bromsgrove School, who contributed a third of the cost. The design was by William Prosser who had been involved with the restoration of St John's church, working with George Gilbert Scott. The Memorial was built from four differing coloured stones in a strong High-Victorian style. The steps are red Corsehill sandstone, the column is grey Forest of Dean sandstone, and the base, superstructure and cross are Bath Stone. On the base were the four symbols of the Apostles, the name and death date of John Adams, the date of consecration of the Cemetery and text from 1 Corinthians xv 55. The inscriptions on the pediment are:

  • on the South, a small Latin cross with the motto of the Emperor Constantine In this sign shalt thou conquer;
  • on the East, Alpha and Omega interlaced beneath I am the Resurrection and the Life;
  • on the North, IHS (the first three letters of the Greek word for Jesus) beneath Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord;
  • on the West, XP (first and second letters of the Greek name for Christ), beneath I am the Way, the Truth, the Life.


Notable Graves in Bromsgrove Cemetery

For locations of these graves, see the Cemetery Walk Leaflet.

 collis Rev. Dr John Day Collis (1816-1879)
Born in Ireland, he was ordained in 1843 and became Headmaster of Bromsgrove School. He served Bromsgrove as a JP and chairman of the Poor Law Guardians. He was a founder of the literary and Scientific Institute in the town and spearheaded the Anti-Truck movement to improve the nailers lives. He pressed for George Gilbert Scott's improvements to the church and for the Hop Pole, now Tudor House, to be rebuilt in New Road, where it is today. Plot F141 S09566/7082
 walton Elijah Walton (1832-1880)
A Birmingham born artist and author, he studied at Birmingham School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools, London. Walton spent several years travelling and painting in the Alps, Egypt and the Middle East, and became an early member of the Alpine Club. Walton and his second wife moved to Bromsgrove, where she had family connections, and Elijah was for a time President of Bromsgrove School of Art. He died at his home in Bromsgrove, leaving three young sons.
Plot no. J226, S09565/7084
 chavasse Sir Thomas Chavasse (1854-1913)
A great benefactor of Bromsgrove and a generous supporter of the building of the Cottage Hospital. He was for 30 years senior surgeon at the Birmingham General Hospital and to the Bromsgrove Cottage Hospital. Plot no. E17, S09565/7086
The memorial plaque is to Noel Chavasse RAMC. VC and bar MC,
his nephew, who died in 1917.
Thomas Davies Thomas (1811- )

He was born in Builth Wells, Breconshire in 1811. From 1835 he ran a drapery business in a three-storey Georgian house near the corner of High Street and St John's Street. He was a director of the Gas Company and a Commissioner named in the Bromsgrove Improvement Act of 1846. He later became General Manager of the Stourbridge and Kidderminster Bank, whose Bromsgrove branch is now occupied by HSBC. He died
at his house in Denbighshire, leaving £881000. Plot no. Ei 50, S09568/7084

Notable Graves in Bromsgrove Cemetery

For locations of these graves, see the Cemetery Walk Leaflet.

crane William Crane (1844-1916)
A baker by trade, he established a business in Melbourne Road, Side moor. He succeeded his father, James, as the Leader of the Methodist Ebenezer Chapel in 1886. From 1905 he became increasingly paralysed by illness and his son, Ashwell, became Deputy Leader to carry
out many of his duties. Plot no. 0 18, S09565/7093
white Thomas White (1819-1908)
As a young man he obtained a position with John Adams as a clerk and four years later he was taken into partnership. When John Adams died Thomas took over the indigo works. He was a teacher in the Sunday school and a treasurer of the Church Missionary Society. He became a trustee of the Bromsgrove United Charities and donated to the Cottage Hospital Fund. He built the Cottage Homes in New Road to provide homes for twelve "financially deserving ladies".
Plot no. 1407, S09565/7087
saywell Samuel Saywell (1837-1914)
Headmaster of the College School, founded by his brother Lemuel. His school was in the High Street but with the opening of New Road he moved the school to The Green, a large house halfway up the hill from the town. It became known as the College, now Elmhurst, and gave its name to College Road. He became a Fellow of the Linnaean Society and the Royal Astronomical Society. In 1872 he was awarded a BA from Trinity College Dublin and two years later an MA. He served on the Worcestershire Education Committee and was involved in the life of the Church and the Court Leet.
Plot no.T80, S09556/7096
scroxton John Harris Scroxton (1804-1890)
Born in Bromsgrove, the eldest son of John Scroxton, Baptist preacher. Author, poet and amateur artist, he was a stationer and bookseller, editing 'The Gleaner', Bromsgrove's first newspaper. From his premises in the High Street he sold and took some of the first glass plate photographs. He was remembered as "one of the best and kindest of men". Plot no. Di 421S0956717090

Thomas Scroxton (1811-1888)
Born in 1811, he was a nail factor with a warehouse in St John's St reet. He was later in partnership with Walter Brooke of Raglan House, High Street. Thomas built Alma House, standing on the corner of Church Lane and Kidderminster Road, which became Bromsgrove's Vicarage in
1931. He died there on 30th May 1888. Plot no. D169, S09567/7090

Notable Graves in Bromsgrove Cemetery

For locations of these graves, see the Cemetery Walk Leaflet.

humphreys John Humphreys MA., PhD., MDS, FLS, FSA, FGS (1850-1937)
He left school at 15 and was apprenticed to a chemist. He opened his own shop in Bromsgrove when he was 21. He then studied dent istry at the Dental Hospital in Birmingham and opened a surgery in Bromsgrove in 1877. He was the first to be awarded a Master of Dental Surgery from Birmingham University in 1901. He was the captain of the local Fire Brigade and a member of the Court Leet. He became a Fellow of the linnaean Society, the Society of Antiquaries and the Geological Society. He was President of The Birmingham Natural History and Philosophy Society and a Reader in Mediaeval Archaeology. He was also President of the Birmingham and Worcester Archaeological Societies. Plot no. V321, S09564/7106
john cotton John Cotton (1844-1934)
An architect, historian, poet and artist. He was responsible for many of the buildings we see today in and around Bromsgrove, including All Saints Church and St Godwald's Church at Finstall. He left an archive of his drawings and his historical scrapbooks to Birmingham Reference Library. Plot no. Mi981 S09570/7094
alfred cotton William Alfred Cotton (1853-1889)
Auctioneer and scholar and brother of John. He wrote a history of Bromsgrove Church and many pamphlets on coins and tokens, flint chips and the geology of the area. His library of books was accepted by the Victoria Institute
in Worcester (later the Public Library). Plot no. Mi99, S09570/7094
pratt Anthony Pratt (1903-1994)
Born in Birmingham he was a successful musician, composer and entertainer. During the Second World War he was working in an engineering factory and this gave him time to invent a game. This game became known as Cluedo (or in America, Clue), believed to be the second most popular game after Monopoly. Cluedo has sold more than 150 million copies in more than forty countries and inspired a television series and the film 'Clue'(1985). Plot no. B861, S09573/7085

Notable Graves in Bromsgrove Cemetery

For locations of these graves, see the Cemetery Walk Leaflet.

  Thomas Tudor Sanders (1805-1881)
The son of Benjamin Sanders, a button manufacturer, he ran his father's business. In 1864 he inherited the Cotton Pool Estate and later drained the enormous pool, of which a small pool now remains in Sanders Park.
 hadley Benjamin Hadley Sanders (1830-1910)
The son ofThomas Tudor Sanders. He was articled to a solicitor in London and became a partner with Luke Minshall, solicitor of Steps House, St John's Street. He was Clerk to the Improvement Commissioners, and subsequently to the Local Board and the Urban District Council, resigning in 1903. He founded the Bromsgrove Rovers FC. He demolished the cotton mill and built the first open air swimming pool in the town. When he died at Oakdene, Kidderminster Road (now the Conservative Club), the town's people erected a horse trough and drinking fountain in the High Street in his memory.
 mary sanders Lucy Mary Maude Sanders (1864-1945) & Mary Beatrice Sanders (1856-1951)
The two daughters of B.H. Sanders never married and like their father showed great generosity and a well developed social conscience, donating Sanders Park to the town.
Plot no. 1274, S09563/7087

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