Memorial stone to mark place where 12,000 St Helens children are buried in paupers’ graves (From St Helens Star)
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Memorial stone to mark place where 12,000 St Helens children are buried in paupers’ graves
1:00pm Thursday 14th March 2013 in News
A MEMORIAL stone to recognise the final resting place of more than 12,000 children buried in paupers’ graves at St Helens Cemetery will be unveiled later this month.
The event marks the culmination of years of painstaking research by volunteers.
The remains of more than 65,000 people are buried in unmarked graves beneath grassland that covers large areas of the cemetery. Nearly a fifth of those are children.
There are no headstones because a plot of land was all that impoverished families could afford or the deceased’s body had been found and there was limited detail about their background.
The first pauper burials took place at the cemetery in 1858, costing just four shillings and six pence. Then, the average cost of a private grave was about £1 and 10 shillings.
It continued throughout the 20th century. The final pauper grave for a child was dug in 1972.
Altogether around one third of the cemetery’s original 27 sections are paupers’ graves. A similar monument was laid last year to recognise all unmarked graves.
Now, after donations from members of the public and the generosity of funeral directors and stonemasons, a memorial headstone will be laid as a collective reminder of children’s lives.
Members of the Friends of St Helens Cemetery say families will now have a focal point for their floral tributes.
Marlene Downey, from the Friends of St Helens Cemetery, said: “The large number of people buried in pauper graves over the years emphasises the financial hardship that many families had to endure – with their choice of burial sites decided by what they could afford.
“Now though we have some beautiful headstones to mark the sites – where people can lay flowers and remember their loved ones.”
Mayor of St Helens, Councillor Geoff Almond, will unveil the memorial stone on Tuesday, March 26 at 2pm.
The Friends hope as many people as possible will attend to celebrate the completion of this project.