‘Desecration’ claim over Welwyn Garden City cemetery move

PUBLISHED: 06:00 26 February 2014

Brothers Scott and Craig Rathbone stand next to their parents plot in Hatfield Hyde Cemetery

Brothers Scott and Craig Rathbone stand next to their parents plot in Hatfield Hyde Cemetery


Plans to cover over memorial plots, or force families to exhume the remains of their loved ones in a Welwyn Garden City cemetery, have been branded “desecration”.

Hatfield Hyde CemeteryHatfield Hyde Cemetery

The scheme, at the site, run by Welwyn Hatfield Council, would see a rose garden built over the top of interred ashes with marked plots at Hatfield Hyde Cemetery, in Hollybush Lane.

But angry mourners have attacked the plan.

Derek Groom, 68, of Walnut Grove, Welwyn Garden City, labelled the scheme “disgusting”

Mr Groom, whose father and mother-in-law’s memorials are at the site also said his mother hoped to be placed next to his father.

Plans ‘backed by mourners’ says council

Council bosses have claimed the plans had received backing from mourners.

Speaking about the concerns a council spokesman told the WHT: “We have sent letters to all those who have previously dedicated a rose memorial at Hatfield Hyde Cemetery regarding the work to improve the grounds, and the vast majority of responses received are in favour of the proposals.

“He added: “We recognise the sensitive nature of undertaking any work at a cemetery and that is why we have communicated widely, and will consider all comments received, but the work will allow us to provide a wider range of memorial options.”

The retired electrician said: “If I went over there and took someone’s headstone off and covered the ground with a tonne of soil, I would be prosecuted for desecrating a grave and that is what the council is doing.”

And brothers Scott, Craig and Brett Rathbone, whose parents are interred at the cemetery, also hit out and said 190 plots would be affected.

Scott Rathbone told the WHT: “Let me state why that individual spot, marked by a single rose, is important to us and I suspect many other families, because it provides a focal point for memorialising my parents who lived in the area for over 50 years.

“To remember and be remembered are natural human needs.”

Mr Rathbone the only alternative to the “very unsavoury” plans would be to have his parents remains exhumed at “massive” cost, because police would need to be present and the exhumation could only take place between 1am and 4am.

Work is set to start at the end of the month or the beginning of next month.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Welwyn Hatfield Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Welwyn Hatfield Times