Gate opening and closing
The cemetery gates are opened at 8.00am every day of the year including Bank Holidays and weekends.
They are closed at 4.30pm from October to March and at 8.00pm from April to September.
See directions - or the postcode is BA2 2RQ
Haycombe Cemetery and Crematorium opens its doors annually in June, when it holds an 'Open Day' where staff are on hand to guide members of the public through the cremation process. The Open Day is followed by a Memorial Service which takes place in the Crematorium Chapel. The Open Day usually takes place around the second Sunday in June from 12.00 - 3.00pm, with the service following at 3.15pm.
This is followed on 11th November by a Remembrance Day Service .
A Christmas Service is also arranged by Bereavement Services staff and takes place in the Top Chapel on the third Sunday before Christmas at 3.00pm. Representatives of various denominations, funeral directors and a local church choir all kindly take part in the service, which is followed by a hot drink and mince pie. With attendance improving year on year from ten people in its initial year (2007), Bereavement Service's staff were really pleased to welcome approximately a hundred people in December 2009.
If you have a suggestion for any other type of service or memorial event, please contact Bereavement Services who are always willing to respond to any request and to consider any ways of promoting awareness of its services throughout the whole community. They would especially like to here from minority groups, who feel the existing events are not for them.
History of the cemetery site
Haycombe Cemetery opened in 1937 to coincide with the closures of Bellotts Road, Locksbrook and St James municipal cemeteries in the same year.
The Top (or Burial) Chapel was built in time for the opening, as was the lodge which housed the Cemetery Superintendent serving as both his office and dwelling.
The crematorium came later in 1961. It had no car park at all at first, as services normally took place in the local church and the coffin was brought into the crematorium by a funeral director purely for cremation.
The last occupants of the lodge as a dwelling left in 1996. They were no longer connected with the cemetery in any way by then. There followed several years of controversy, as the Head of Cemeteries and Crematorium saw it as the perfect opportunity to transfer from cramped offices adjacent to the Top Chapel with little or no reception area, whilst the council, following government policy, hoped that it could remain as part of the housing stock. Unfortunately it was neither specifically house nor office - or rather it was both. The original Cemetery Superintendent's office had been blocked off from the rest of the house and was still in use as the current Cemetery Superintendent's office, which meant that no 'right to buy' could be incorporated in any tenancy. Therefore it could not be offered as a council house to a tenant, and there was certainly no room to move the Cemetery Superintendent (and his burial and grave registers for several cemeteries) into an office already creaking at the seams in the Top Chapel.
All avenues were explored to try to resolve the situation, but the lodge remained unoccupied (apart from the office) and unloved, degenerating through lack of use. Although the fabric of the building was maintained by the council, there was no-one to prevent damp and general deterioration taking place as in any unoccupied building. However, in 2004 permission was finally granted for a change of use and the lodge was spruced up ready for all office staff to move into it in July of that year.
Overnight the facilities for both staff and public changed beyond recognition. A spacious reception area now greets members of the public. A 'Quiet Room' is available for them to sit quietly and complete forms, or assemble before an ashes interment, or talk privately to staff, or even just to sit quietly and recover their composure. Whilst staff now no longer have to grab a sandwich at their desk. There is a staff room, or in summer a garden, in which to eat lunch properly. And one of the offices is large enough to double as a meeting or training room - albeit not for large numbers.
Wildlife at Haycombe
The cemetery plays host to deer, squirrels, pheasants and numerous species of birds. We have a resident family of green woodpeckers and a kestrel regularly hovers over the wild area behind the crematorium chapel cheering mourners and charming staff. Unfortunately some of these visitors demand a price. Deer are very partial to roses. They bite the flowers from the stems with the precision of a pair of scissors and because they browse they may take all of the roses on one grave and leave those on the adjoining grave, giving the impression that one grave has been specifically targeted by vandals (failing roses, carnations will do!) The Commonwealth War Graves Commission manage to keep their roses in such lovely condition by spraying with a lion dung based compound, but a more easily available deterrent is curry powder mixed with washing up liquid. This may also deter squirrels who will otherwise happily decimate a grave whilst digging up small bulbs and corms. Alternatively, plants less appealing to either deer or squirrels can be chosen. They never touch the plants in any of the cemetery flower beds, whether bedding or herbaceous. Staff are always willing to advise.
Maintenance of grounds
The council's arboricultural officer keeps the trees under a 3 yearly review and agrees minor works with the volunteers. All major tree works are carried out by the council's tree specialists.
Apart from specifically designated areas, grass cutting is carried out fortnightly during the growing season (March - Oct/Nov) with the areas between the graves being strimmed. Strimming is done with special strimmer cord specifically designed not to damage memorials - however they can catch unprotected gravel and/or loose vases, etc., causing possible injury to the groundsmen which is why such items are not allowed under the cemetery regulations.
A management plan is in place and some areas are designated for managing as wild flower areas including an area set aside for green burials i.e. where trees are planted in place of a headstone. We try to tie these areas together by means of a green corridor adjacent to the margins of the cemetery.
Bereavement Services carries out a 5 year rolling programme of memorial testing to ensure that memorials are preserved as well as possible. The council does not have the right to restore memorials, but it does have the responsibility to make the cemetery a reasonably safe place to visit which enables it to lay down any memorials in danger of falling. Safety in cemeteries and churchyards has improved so much since such programmes were introduced, that now the main benefit from testing is to ensure that memorials are not left to rot until they fall smashing themselves, or neighbouring memorials, or both, in the process.
Because of its relative youth some of the most interesting graves in Haycombe are the graves of those who died in the blitz of Bath in May 1942. It was anticipated that there would be further raids so the two long communal graves needed at the time were dug at either end of the total area designated for the purpose of burying all civilian casualties. Known to staff as the 'long communal' and the 'short communal', both rows have a memorial detailing the circumstances of the raids. As no further raids occurred they stand in splendid isolation. Maintenance of these graves is kept as closely in line with the war graves section as budgets permit.
The war graves section is maintained on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and relates to the 1939 -1945 war.
The only celebrity (as far as we know) buried here is Fanny Burney and that is more by accident than design, as her remains, together with those of her husband and son, were transferred here with others from Walcot burial ground when it was cleared for redevelopment. They are buried beneath the Rockery Garden on the western side of the cemetery - a stone marks the area. An information sheet about Fanny prepared from information kindly supplied by the Burney Society is available from the office.
How to get here by car from the motorway.
- Take the A46 to Bath
- Turn right to join the A4, into Bath
- Follow the A4 until the next major junction (Cleveland Bridge), and turn left onto the inner ring road (A36 Bristol), and continue following signs for Bristol (not Warminster).
- At the big roundabout, with the railway arches situated on the island, turn left onto the A367 to Exeter.
- Follow this road until you reach a large physical roundabout (just after a dual carriageway) & turn right.
- Follow signs for the crematorium. On your left hand side you will pass a school, a speed camera, a garden centre followed by a row of houses.
- Haycombe Cemetery and Crematorium are just past the houses on your left. The burial chapel is immediately opposite the entrance gates, whilst the crematorium chapel and its car park are situated at the far end of the cemetery.
Allow plenty of time, as the traffic can be rather heavy at times.
Copies of directions from all areas available on request from the office.
If you wish to search via mapping websites - our postcode is BA2 2RQ.
How to get here by public transport.
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