Rectory Lane Cemetery in Berkhamsted has been given a Green Flag Community Award after a huge volunteer-led restoration project.
The Victorian cemetery was an overgrown and forgotten space for decades, but has now achieved the international mark of quality for green parks and spaces.
The transformation came about through a Heritage Lottery Funded scheme initiated by the Friends of St Peter’s Church Berkhamsted.
It has involved the work of over a hundred volunteers, artists, landscape architects, stone masons and conservationists.
Project manager James Moir said: “We wanted to preserve the 19th century features of the site – its precious monuments, and trees, and arch-ways, but we also wanted to make the cemetery a welcoming place for the local community to come for their physical and mental wellbeing.
“The Green Flag judges commended us for giving visitors a meaningful experience and this is of huge importance to us.”
The cemetery contains a new garden of remembrance, scenic accessible pathways and seats for families and friends to meet, and a zone dedicated to wildlife study and education.
The cemetery also provides a fascinating insight into local history: a team of volunteer genealogists are researching the stories of those who came to rest in the grounds, and offer support to individuals, from across the globe, who are searching for the memorials of family members.
Kate Campbell, the project’s community engagement officer, added: “The cemetery has become much loved by the people of this town, and its future is a bright one.”
The Green Flag Award judge summed up: “This is an exceptionally well thought through, designed and executed community cemetery restoration that sets a high bar for community engagement and activities.”