Sidmouth family speak of shock at state of cemetery

PUBLISHED: 12:37 15 June 2018

Overgrown grass covering gravestones at Sidmouth Cemetry. Picture: Katherine French

Overgrown grass covering gravestones at Sidmouth Cemetry. Picture: Katherine French

Picture: Katherine French

A Sidmouth family, who was forced to cut their way to their loved ones’ graves, have blasted the ‘disgraceful and dangerous’ state of the town’s cemetery.

Overgrown grass covering gravestones at Sidmouth Cemetry. Picture: Katherine FrenchOvergrown grass covering gravestones at Sidmouth Cemetry. Picture: Katherine French

Kate French and her sister Jo took shears up to the site on Sunday and were shocked to find the grass had been allowed to grow even more since their last visit at Easter.

The Mill Street resident said the grass was now at waist height and was dangerous, as visitors were not able to see headstones.

Ms French, said: “It’s disgraceful, you couldn’t see any of the graves. “When we got there, we couldn’t believe our eyes, it was unbelievable.

“We went around with shears to keep it down a little bit because we knew the grass was a foot long, now you cannot see the grave stones.

Overgrown grass covering gravestones at Sidmouth Cemetry. Picture: Katherine FrenchOvergrown grass covering gravestones at Sidmouth Cemetry. Picture: Katherine French

“It’s disgraceful.

“It’s just dangerous as well as upsetting. They [EDDC] shouldn’t need to be prompted [to tidy it].

“I couldn’t believe how easy you could have gone over.”

Before visiting the cemetery on Sunday, the sisters visited family graves at Salcombe Regis Parish Church.

Overgrown grass covering gravestones at Sidmouth Cemetry. Picture: Katherine FrenchOvergrown grass covering gravestones at Sidmouth Cemetry. Picture: Katherine French

Ms French praised the work of the late Jill Thomson who kept the grounds tidy and maintained the graveyard ‘like a golf course’.

The difference between the sites has prompted the resident to call for the district council to ‘get its act together’.

Ms French said: “My father was a local fisherman, when he gave that up he worked for the park department.

“He would be absolutely turning in his grave to find his parents are not even able to be seen.

Overgrown grass covering gravestones at Sidmouth Cemetry. Picture: Katherine FrenchOvergrown grass covering gravestones at Sidmouth Cemetry. Picture: Katherine French

“He used to tend graves and parks so this makes it even worse.

“I understand there has to be cuts but there has to be a limit, you have to make sure it is safe.”

An EDDC spokeswoman said due to budget cuts and that the graves were in the Victorian section of the site it was cut twice a year.

She said: “Unfortunately, due to budget cuts we have had to look at ways of saving money and one of the ways we have done this is to reduce the frequency of cuts in certain places.

Overgrown grass covering gravestones at Sidmouth Cemetry. Picture: Katherine FrenchOvergrown grass covering gravestones at Sidmouth Cemetry. Picture: Katherine French

“Reduced cuts like this have been in place since 2010. The area in question is the Victorian section of the cemetery and it is now closed, which means no more burials take place there.

“The Victorian section receives very few visitors and is cut just twice a year, unlike the rest of the cemetery, which is cut every two to three weeks. We also have an adopted Green Space Plan which aims to encourage biodiversity - reduced cutting frequencies have great benefits for biodiversity too.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Sidmouth Herald. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest from the Sidmouth Herald