‘Flower Power’ Open Day at Reading’s Victorian Garden Cemetery

RESIDENTS are invited to a ‘Flower Power’ themed family open day at Reading Old Cemetery in east Reading in early April.

The free family friendly open day will run from 11am to 3pm on Sunday 2nd April 2017.

The event, which is sponsored by Olswang Thames Valley, is organised and run by volunteers from the Friends of Cemetery Junction (part of Reading’s ECONET Conservation Volunteers), with a number of activities run by Nature Nurture CIC.

The day will focus on two wildflower areas on the Council run site and their importance for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Activities will include mini-beast hunts in the wild flower areas (with the aim of raising the profile of their value and importance), bee and wildflower inspired family arts and crafts activities (run by Nature Nurture CIC), wildflower planting with free wildflower seeds to take away and guided walks led by members of the Friends of Cemetery Junction.

Teresa Verney Brookes, a member of the Friends of Cemetery Junction, said: “The Open Day aims to highlight the value of the wildflower meadows in the cemetery and their importance for bees and other creatures. 

“The event will include lots of fun, hands on family activities and games related to bees and wildflowers, as well as guided walks of the site.  Wildflower seeds will be given away so people can plant their own ‘bee friendly areas’ in their own gardens, schools, and local open patch.

“Many people who have been to previous events at the site have said that despite living in Reading for years, they have never ventured into the cemetery before and they are always very pleasantly surprised at its beauty. The oldest person to tell us this was 82 years old!”

Cllr Paul Gittings, Lead Member for Culture, Sport and Consumer Services, said: “As one of the countries earliest examples of Victoria ‘garden’ cemeteries, Reading Old Cemetery provides a peaceful recreation space for local people, as well as an important wildlife haven.

“I would encourage residents to venture down to the cemetery on Sunday 2nd April and take part in this free family open day. There are lots of wonderful eco-friendly activities on offer, with something for the whole family to enjoy.”

For more information, contact Teresa Verney Brookes teresavb@btinternet.com

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Notes

Photo opportunity: The media are invited to attend the open day between 11am to 3pm on Sunday 2nd April 2017 at Reading Old Cemetery. Contact Teresa Verney Brookes teresavb@btinternet.com

About Reading Old Cemetery

The cemetery, which is located to the east of Cemetery Junction on the London Road, dates back to 1843 and is one of England’s oldest Victorian ‘garden’ cemeteries, with Grade II listing by English Heritage. It offers a green oasis sandwiched between two of the borough’s major arterial routes in a particularly dense urban area of Reading.

The Council maintains the site on a conservation basis, with occasional burials still taking place in plots purchased by families many years ago, although there are no new plots on the site. The cemetery is now a wildlife haven, with several muntjac deer living in the grounds. The site’s rich bio-diversity includes a number of mature trees, with a weeping beech voted Reading’s favourite tree.

The triangular site covers 4.7 hectares, with 18,327 grave spaces. The impressive Gatehouse and Sarcophagus Monument are listed buildings and famous memorials in the cemetery include Bernard Laurence Hiett, a world record holding motorcyclist and pilot; George Blackall Simonds, sculptor of the Maiwand Lion in Forbury Gardens and Joseph Edward Sydenham, the founder of Reading F.C, as well as a sizable number of war graves.

For more information on the groups involved see: