|HCC Site ID:||1607||Parish:||Winchester|
|Access:||Public Access||Ownership:||Winchester City Council|
Location and Site
West Hill Cemetery of about 2.8 ha (7 acres) is on the southern slope of West Hill with its northern boundary on St James Lane in Winchester.
The land belonged to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester Cathedral. Winchester Cemetery Company was established by Act of Parliament and the first directors’ meeting was held on 1 March 1840. Owen Browne Carter’s plans for the gate-lodge, two chapels and the boundary walls of the present West Hill Cemetery were produced at the directors’ meeting on 31 March 1840 together with tenders which were duly accepted at the meeting. The perimeter wall with its elegant pillars and railings and the wrought iron gates are Grade 11 listed structures but the Lodge is not.
The Gate-lodge and chapels were designed in Tudor-Gothic style. The ground-floor window on the road elevation of the gate-lodge has diamond-shaped label stops and the original part of the surviving lodge is built of similar blue-grey bricks to those used at the Otterbourne and Ampfield churches. The construction of the lodge and the chapels was completed by September 1849. One chapel was for members of the Church of England and the other for ‘Dissenters’. Both were demolished in the 1930s.
Winchester Corporation Bill was passed in 1952 and the title passed to the City Council in 1953. In 1958 Winchester Council took over control of the area which by that time had become neglected and unloved. Since then there has been periodic removal of gravestones and Hampshire Gardens Trust has endeavoured to put forward measures for minimal maintenance whilst at the same time holding on to the gravestones.
The flora is composed of many species found in chalk grassland with a number of other flowering plants self-seeded from floral tributes. There are one or two fine trees and some modern planting. The lodge still stands and although the cemetery is now closed, occasional burials in family plots and vaults do still take place.
In 2012 West Hill Cemetery is not neglected but not particularly well looked after. It serves as a cut-through to the city for students of the University of Winchester but has the potential of remaining a haven of peace, is a strong part of the Victorian history of Winchester with long views to St Catherine’s Hill. Railings remain.
Information: Hampshire Papers 1991: City of Winchester Trust Booklet, A Peaceful Place to Rest, 2003; update June 2008