An event which focused on the history of the cemetery.

Mr Tom Farmer's Horse Drawn Hearse
Mr Tom Farmer’s Horse Drawn Hearse


The weather was warm and sunny and as many as 400 people gathered to take part in everything going on. A highlight of the day was the arrival of a magnificent two horse hearse driven by Mr Tom Farmer of Townies Carriage Masters and we are very grateful to him and to the Mill Road Depot for allowing the horse box to park there.





Drama students from Parkside and Coleridge relax with producer Kay Blayney
Drama students from Parkside and Coleridge relax with producer Kay Blayney

Equally memorable was the performance by Year 10 Parkside and Coleridge students of a series of monologues based on historical facts about people known to be buried in the cemetery The characters included: Thomas Stanbridge (Custodian of the Cemetery) Emma Rolfe (The Unfortunate girl who was murdered on Mid-summer common), James Reynolds (The last ‘Telegraph’ Coachman), and Mary Gurner (Wife of the Sheep stealer who was transported back to Australia).
Tours were led by Allan Brigham, who spoke about the Cemetery in its local context, Phillip Oswald, who led a Wild Flower and Plant walk, Ian Bent,who introduced several local characters buried in the cemetery, and Tricia Wright, local historian .who focused on iconography, and why monuments look the way they do.

Throughout the day people were able to watch Tim Glasswell of the local Ordnance Survey team who is assisting some of the History Group in the on-going process of mapping and charting the location and inscriptions. FOMRC is very grateful for Tim’s help, and for Marion Leeper’s storytelling, and the accordion busking of Paul Sales.

Cambridge Family History Society
Cambridge Family History Society


In the centre were a variety of stalls offering information about the cemetery, children’s dressing up and craft activities. We were fortunate to have Mary Naylor of the Cambridge Family History Society offering help to find people’s graves and also a stall manned by volunteers from local charity, Lifecraft, where people could learn to make a Victorian posy, and also get information about the Victorian Language of Flowers.






Mystery objects and games on loan from the Museum of Cambridge
Mystery objects and games on loan from the Museum of Cambridge



Another stall had a variety of Victorian pastimes together with some Mystery Objects, all on loan from The Museum of Cambridge.





Orchestra and Hearse
Orchestra and Hearse


At 2.0 in the afternoon the Mawson Road Orchestra gave a splendid performance of mainly baroque music to a very appreciative audience. At the beginning of their second set, the accordionist gave a rendition of An Unfortunate Girl, a broadside ballad about Emma Rolfe . buried in the cemetery, who was murdered in 1876 on Midsummer Common. This ballad, in the possession of the Bodleian Library, has to our knowledge never been performed before, and a video of the performance is posted on YouTube


The afternoon concluded with a Service led by the Rev Margaret Widdess celebrating all that the Cemetery was in the Victorian era, and all that it is now, and that it offers to the public.
FOMRC is very grateful to Cambridge City Council East Area Committee for their grant to hold the event, to all who helped on the day, and to all who left helpful comments:
• Exceptionally good; sensitive, informative on lots of levels. I love this place and you have enhanced my appreciation of it. Thank you
• Great music, theatre, flowers, horse, hearse etc; enjoyed it very much
• Entertaining, hugely informative. Great music!
• A really wonderful day and very well organised. So much entertainment. The monologues were brilliant.
• Really enjoyed the event. Particularly learned from Allan session, and monologues. Loved music
• Lovely and really interesting day for the whole family

Article and photographs available on

Victorian Day