A brief history of Wardsend Cemetery
by P. Quincey
Wardsend was opened in the early 1850’s, when a nearby churchyard became full. The name, Wardsend is a corruption of “Worldsend”, which is reputed to be the site of the second coming of Christ, and is listed in a land agreement in 1161.
The site of the cemetery (see map opposite) occupies 5.5 acres and once included a small chapel, office and a sexton’s house. The railway line runs through the cemetery, dividing it into a western half which is wooded and an eastern half which is open (see pictures).
The first burial was in 1857 and was of Mary Ann Marsden aged 2 years. By tradition the first body was always given the title of “Guardian of the Cemetery”. By 1900 the number of burials totalled 20,000 and the site was extended.
The cemetery achieved notoriety in 1864 when the sexton was accused of body snatching and the vicar of falsifying Church Records. Both stood trial, the former receiving a sentence of six months, the latter 3 weeks, though he later was awarded a pardon by Queen Victoria. Along with the normal burials there are bodies from the nearby Hillsborough Barracks; the Workhouse and the Medical School. Wardsend Cemetery is connected to an important part of Sheffield's history, the Sheffield Flood of 1864, which claimed many of the lives now buried in the cemetery. The cemetery was closed in 1968.
Friends of Wardsend Cemetery promote the site and research its history. If you would like more information about the group please contact Michelle Gane, Parks and Countryside Service on (0114) 250 0500, and your contact details will be passed to the Friends of Wardsend Cemetery.