Heritage grant to help repair Brookwood Cemetery

BROOKWOOD Cemetery has received £25,000 from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund to help meet the cost of repairs during the coronavirus pandemic. The fund, administered by Historic England, is to protect the country’s “at risk” heritage sites.

The grant, which is the maximum, will go towards the ongoing restoration of the Columbarium, which, until it was acquired by the council, had been blocked up and closed off to the public because of its condition.

WORK IN PROGRESS – The Columbarium at Brookwood Cemetery, which was visited by the Earl of Wessex last year with Woking Borough Council’s strategic asset manager, Ian Tomes, and Brookwood Cemetery manager Avril Kirby

The largest and most notable of its kind within the cemetery, the Columbarium is a listed monument in its own right. The cross-shaped, stone-built structure is defined by its central dome and elegant classical features.

Cllr Graham Cundy, Woking Borough Council’s lead member for Brookwood Cemetery, said: “This grant from the Government’s recovery fund will help us to get our repair programme, which has been severely hampered by the virus, back on schedule.

“With the winter months now upon us, we need to make urgent repairs to the roof of the Columbarium to prevent any further water damage.”

The grant will facilitate repairs to the roof of Brookwood Cemetery’s Columbarium

Originally intended as a mausoleum, it was commissioned by the 5th Earl Cadogan towards the end of the 19th century. The earl, however, sold the building to the London Necropolis Company in 1910, at which point it was used if for the storing of ashes.

Inside the Columbarium there is a gallery at entrance level and, towards the back, an internal staircase leading to an underground vault.

Cllr Cundy added:  “Before the pandemic, the council approved an ambitious and exciting set of plans to safeguard the future of the cemetery and encourage greater use of this diverse site.

“The Columbarium is one of the larger public monuments in the cemetery with an interesting history, which should be more accessible to our residents.”

Repairs to the Columbarium will focus on the flat roof, which is leaking around the central dome. The softwood substructure is also breaking up, causing dipping on the decking and allowing water to pool. A number of the convex “lenses” to the domed roof are also missing allowing moisture into the building.

Works to the roof will include reinstating with a finish in zinc and an adequate fall to discharge water effectively, re-decking in marine grade plywood and replacing broken glazing.

For more information, visit www.woking.gov.uk/brookwoodcemetery.

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