Below are a number of articles from various Liverpool newspapers relating to the opening ceremony of Toxteth Park Cemetery. I hope you read them and realise how fascinating they are, even though they were written over 150 years ago.


Yesterday being the day appointed by, the Lord Bishop of Chester for consecrating the chapel and cemetery belonging to the Burial Board of Toxteth Park, that ceremony was performed with the usages, religious and secular, customarily observed on such occasions. The cemetery itself is a spacious quadrangular piece of ground, thirty acres in extent, situated on the south side of Smithdown-lane, and just exterior to the borough boundary. It is enclosed by a substantial and well-built wall on three sides; the front or side next Smithdown-lanebeing protected by a handsome iron pallisade,broken at intervals by elegant pillars of rustic masonry, and crammed in the centre by a handsome gateway, with two commodious lodges, and at either side of the gate.

The cemetery is tastefully laid out in level terraces and sloping banks, intersected by broad and winding walks, bordered by flower plots, patches of shrubbery, and rows of trees. Conspicuous among these latter are fine specimens of the weeping elm and weeping ash; graceful birches, fine thorns, mountain ashes, and many varieties of pines, including the silver pine of the Himalayas, and several well-grown auracarius. Among the shrubs there are some beeautiful rhododendrons, Irish yews, azalias, and dwarf pines. The general design of the ground is marked out by well-defined oval walk, which, occupying the centre, is intercected by a broad walk in the line of longitudinal axis, crowned by a narrower one marking the transverse axis of the ellipses. At each of the extreme ends of this transversewalk in a chapel of small dimensions; that on th left orright side, along with the whole of the ground on the same side of the longitudinal centre walk, being devoted to the burials of those connected with the Established Church; while the ground and chapel on the opposite, or west side of the same walk, are appropriated to the funeral of Dissidents.

As already stated the area of this cemetery is thirty acres, which have been converted from their original state into the present ceremonial condition of the burying ground at an expense of about £26,000, the sum £15,000 having been paid for the land, and the remainder having been devoted to the enclosing, levelling, laying out, and planting the ground, and building the two chapels and lodges. Of the thirty acres it is estimated that a forty eight are occupied as walks and shrubberies, and remaing 22 being set apart for the purpose of sculpture. Internally and externally, each of the chapels is a counterpart of the other, with the exception that the one belonging to the Established Church has a spiruette in the north-east angle, formed by the junction of the porch with the main wall of the edifice. Both the chapels are in the Norman ecolesiastic style, of good proportion, and well varied outline; and both are furnished with only a few rows of benches and a reading desk. Internally, the roofs of each are of light open-timber framing of varnished pine-plain, beautiful, and unpretending. Both of thes structures, as well as the lodges, have been, erected from designs by T.D Barry, Esq, archtect; and the ground has been laid out in accordance with the plans, and under the supervision of Mr, Gay, of the Bradford Cemetery; the whole of the contracts being executed by Mr Ladd of Edge-hill.

The ceremony of the consecration had been fixed to commence at eleven o’clock;and, not withstanding the threatening state of the weather, a large concourse ofladies and gentlemen were present at the hours, within a few minutes of which the Lord Bishop drove up to the gate, where he was recieved by the contractors, the members of the burial board, the members of the Town Council, and others, who, formed in the following order of procession, moved from the lodge to the chapel:-


Among the members of the Corporation present were, J.H Turner, Esq, Deputy Mayot, in the immediate absenses of hid Worship the Mayor, Messrs, Gregson, Halbens, Fernihough, etc.

Immediately on having formed, the procession marched to the chapel, where the rites prescribed for the consecration of such and edifice were duly observed and gone through by the bishop; after which the whole cortage, headed by his lordship, peramubulated the ground set apart for the interment of those connected with the established Church, returning again to the chapel, where the prescribed prayers and benediction having been pronounced by the bishop, his lordship, together with some of the leading clergy and deputy-mayor, signed the deed of consecration,and, as far as they were concerned, the services of the day were at an end.


In compliance with previous arrangements, a series of devotional exercises took place, commencing at one o’clock, in the chapel belonging to the Dissenters. These consisted chiefly of prayers and address suitable for such an occasion. The chapel was filled by a highly respectable and attentive audience which was addressed by the Rev, Mr Birrell, and the Rev, Mr F.A. West. These services concluded the impressive ceremonial of the day, and at their conclusion the numerous parties who had taken part in them retired.


CONSECRATION OF THE NEW CEMETERY IN TOXTETH-PARK, – The newly-laid out burial-ground in Toxteth Park was formally opened on Monday. That portion set apart for interments according to the rites of the Established Church was consecrated by the Lord Bishop of Chester. The morning was unfavourable, a thick heavy rain descending during the entire time occupied by the performance of the ceremonies. A large number of ladies and gentlemen were im attendance. At eleven o’clock a procession was formed to meet his lordship, the Bishop, at the lodge-entrance in Smithdown-lane. The procession consisted of the architect and contractors, the members of the burial board, amongst whom were Messrs.Alpass, HArrison, mountfield, and others; the members of the Town Council, among whom were Alderman J.H.Turner, who represented his Worship the Mayor; Messrs. Gregson, Fernihough, Wagstaff, and others; the Archdeacon, and a large number of the local Clergy. The service of the day was then performed by his lordship ther Bishop in the chapel, after which the processiom went upon the ground, the petition for consecration was presented, the sentence of consecration read, and the usual prayer delivered by the Bishop. The ceremonials closed with the customary blessing. The opening service of thechapel in the unconsecrated portion of the cemetery took place at one o’clock.

The devotional excercises appropriated to the occasion were performed, and addresses were delivered by the Rev. F.A.West and the Rev. C.M Birrell. The whole of the ceremetery occupies thirty acres of ground, of which eight acres are laid out in walks, The cost of the land was about £15,000, and the amount of building expenses, &c., about £11,000. Mr T.D Barry is the architect of the chapels and the entrance. Mr.J Ladd, of Edge-hill, is the contractor for the buildings, walls, and excavation.


The burial board of the new cemetery in Toxteth-park lately convened the ministers of all congregations in the township not connected with the Church of England , requesting them to make arrangements for the interment of the dead in the unconsecrated portion of the ground, the act of Parliament not empowering them to appoint a resident chaplain.

A meeting of dissenting ministers was consequently held on Friday, the 30th ultimo, in the public office, Park-place, Park-road, to make arrangements for interments in those cases in which no minister should be specially provided by the parties themselves, in conformity with the request of the board. Present: The Rev F.A West (in the chair), the Rev. W. Harcus. G. Johnston, John Downing. T. Akroyd, T. Faull, J. Gilchrist Wilson , and J.Robberds. After a long conversation, it was found that there was, on the part of nearly the whole of the ministers present, an objection to be ??????? in the conduct of a public religious service with any gentleman holding Unitarian sentiments; where upon Mr Robbers, having expressed his entire dissent from the view taken by the objecting ministers, his regret that the objection was inseperable, and his willingness, for his own part, to have taken his ???? of the duty offered to withdraw from the contemplated assiciation if the other ministers present could not conscientiously act with him-it being, of course understood that he should feel himself at liberty to officiate on all occasions when his services might be specially applied for; on which Mr. Robberds having retired, it was moved by the Rev. J. Gilbert Wilson , seconded by the Rev John Dowsonp and carried unanimously, that the offer of Mr Robberds be accepted, and that the meeting desires to express to him its sense of kindness and courtesy with which he met the difficulties of the case.

The following letter was subsequently addressed by Mr Robberds, to the chairman of the Burial Board :-

49 High Park-street, June 4 1856

My dear Sir :- At the next meeting of the board you will, I believe receive a statement in reference to the proposed arrangements for the interrment of the dead in the unconsecrated portion of the cemetery, from which it will appear that most of the other dissenting ministers in Toxteth-park object, on consientious grounds to unite in an association for that purpose with any but Trinitarian ministers. I endeavoured to combat this objection, representing that it would always be open to any parties who might object to the minister for the week to apply to some other minister instead; that we all had enough in common in our views of Christian truth to work harmoniously together in such an association; that on the solemn and affecting occasion of a burial service, doctrinal distinctions among Christians are never made prominent; and that my services are continually applied for at the burying ground attached to the Ancient Chapel by parties of various denominations of Christians, although it is perfectly open to them to apply to any minister they choose, and ministers of other denominations not unfrequently officiate there.

I have found, however, to my regret, that I could not overcome the objection of most of the ministers present, and my only course, therefore, was to offer at once to withdraw from an association in which I had hoped that we might agree to allow our doctrinal differences to to sublime into the appropriate silence of the grave, I am thus reluctantly compelled to feel exempt from any share of the for the performances of services at the cemetery, except, of course, in those cases in which i may be specially applied to.

I beg to acknowledge, however, the impartiality of yourself and the board including ?? among the religious ministers of the township, and remain, my dear sir, yours very faithfully.

Minister of the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth-park


TOXTETH PARK BURIAL GROUND – at a special Vestry of the extra-parochial place of Toxteth-park,on Thursday, Mr Avison presiding, the Burial Board were authorized to expend a further sum of £1,500, in addition to the £25,000 already expended on the new burial ground, the extra sum being required to meet a balance owing to the contractors. It was explained that not more than £1,000 or £1,100 would be absolutley required, and that no more money would be wanted. It was further resolved to borrow the money and charge the poor-rates of the district with the payment of the money and interest. The board was then authorized to pay th the registrar a salary not exceeding £100 per annum, with house, gas and water; to the gardener and sexton a salary not exceeding £90 per annum, with the house and water: and to such servants and workmen as might be necessary for the business of the burial ground such wages as were customary in the district. A vote of thanks to the chairman terminated the proceedings.


For the new church of St. Paul, at West Derby. Fr Leeming has purchased from the Liverpool Corporation at a cost of £27, (an amazing £1,162.62 in today’s money) the old “passing bell” which has long been in use in Toxteth Cemetery, and the weight of which has made its tolling dangerous to the tower in which it is hung.


FUNERAL DEFALCATION – The registrar of the Toxteth Park Cemetery has died and left a monument of fraud behind him. His defalcations are stated to be £750. The method of Mr Hetherington’s cheating seems to have been very simple and successful. The business of the cemetey is suppossed to be conducted after a specified routine, and recipts for money should be given on a printed form, with counterfoil duplicates. But Mr Hetherinton overcame the difficulty by selling graves, giving receipts on plain pieces of paper and putting the money in his pocket.

He has been detected in malversation to the extent of £750, and as this was the work of one year’s industry the rate payers may be thankful that the registrara did not take to evil courses at an earlier period of his life. Liverpool Courier.