Sheffield General Cemetery – The Resting Place Of Liquorice Allsorts

I was always fascinated by Highgate Cemetery when I lived in London as a child (See Blog) but what I have since learned as an adult, is that Highgate Cemetery was one of the of the Magnificent Seven Cemeteries which are all in London. As I now live in Yorkshire, I was surprised to learn about a Cemetery in Sheffield that was built before Highgate and that was one of the first commercial Cemeteries in Britain.

After seeing a few images online and reading about its history, Fran & I decided to drive down to Sharrow in Sheffield and take a look. Like Highgate Cemetery, over the years trees and ivy have covered much of Sheffield General Cemetery. The once prized landscaped design and monuments now show signs of decay with the undergrowth covering many of the tombstones that symbolised status and wealth.

As this was Sheffield’s principle Victorian Cemetery location with over 87,000 burials, it is hard to imagine how its demise and neglect have occurred, especially since Sheffield General Cemetery was used for burials until1978. As the 1980’s and early 1990’s were tough times for a lot of former industrial cities in the north of England, I guess people’s thoughts were on the here and now, not the past? As a result, during the 1980’s. & 1990’s the cemetery suffered from a mixture of vandalism and neglect, but thanks to the Sheffield General Cemetery Trust, its decline and neglect have been halted and for me personally from a photographic perspective, I wanted to document it.

The Greek Doric and Egyptian style buildings, were designed by Sheffield architect Samuel Worth (1779–1870) on the site of a former quarry. Robert Marnock who also designed Sheffield Botanical Gardens (1836) and Weston Park (1873) acted as a landscape consultant for the initial phase.

Much of the glory of Sheffield General Cemetery has been eroded resulting in a large amount of the cemetery being overgrown and out of bounds. Despite Sheffield General Cemetery Trust’s efforts to maintain the grounds and monuments, it is possible to see some great examples of Victorian Funerary Monuments, together with some of the famous people who are buried in the Cemetery.

George Bassett (1818–1886). Founder of The Bassett Company, the company that invented Liquorice Allsorts & Mayor of Sheffield (1876).

John, Thomas, and Skelton Cole. Founders of Sheffield’s Cole Brothers department store in 1847 – now part of the John Lewis Partnership. 

William Dronfield (1824–1891). Founder of the United Kingdom Allience of Oranised Trades, which inspired the creation of the Trades Union Congress. 

Mark Firth (25 April 1819 – 28 November 1880). Steel manufacturer, Master Cutler (1867) Mayor of Sheffield (1874), and founder of Firth College in 1870 (later University of Sheffield. The monument to Mark Firth is Grade II listed.

There are numerous other people buried in Sheffield General Cemetery just as famous for anyone willing to undertake the research, but my main interest is from a photographic perspective, although I am starting to find its history is just as interesting.


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