Until 1903, this was the graveyard of St James Chapel (which had long since fallen into disuse as it was closed during the Reformation), although it had been closed to burials for some years. The area had been opened to burials from 1805, but there were also some medieval burials from when St. James chapel was still operating. It was decided that it would be beneficial for the town to use this space as a public park, although the Mayor added that it was primarily for the older population to relax and not for younger people to play in. I suspect that the town didn’t dislike younger people, they just felt that there was already sufficient provision in King’s Lynn for that.
The gravestones were all bundled up and shoved in one corner of the churchyard, something that I was surprised was seen as acceptable in 1903. However, after reading newspaper reports from the time, it makes a little more sense. It transpires that, for whatever reason, the graves had already been moved about a bit before, so they had lost their original placement. Given that, the council thought that moving them again wouldn’t be problematic, but they promised to ensure that the stones would be treated with care and respect.
The council also pledged to ensure that details of each of the graves were to be kept so that individuals were able to cross-reference the old and new locations. This documentation was to be placed in the town clerk’s office and it was felt that this care would be useful to the population of King’s Lynn and ensure that no information was lost in the move. I’m not really that keen on moving gravestones from where they were originally placed, but this action probably ensured that the stones remained better preserved since they’re all shoved close together and protected from the elements.
Anyway, some more photos, and I’ve got some (well, a lot) of photos of individual gravestones as some looked quite intriguing and might interest me to write about in the future. The stones are, I think, all from between 1805 and around 1870, which is when the churchyard opened and closed.