News in 2024

You will find the news from 2024 here - the most recent news will be at the top - read down to catch up on anything you have missed.

July 2024

Formal complaint to RVBC

The original complaint concerning planning issues which was sent to RVBC in April 2019, was acknowledged but we declined the opportunity to proceed with the complaint after Bishop Julian upheld the consecrated status of the Cemetery in 2019. This pragmatic approach to avoiding disruption for both the Council and the Diocese.ruling,  With hindsight, after Bishop Philip's ruling of the 24th May, our 2019 response now seems to have been be mistaken.  The content of the original complaint remains the same and presents the Council with the task of reviewing the specific details concerning the preparation and presentation of a planning application and the actions of its representatives in that process. The complaint, with additional supportive information  has now been resubmitted to the Council. We appreciate that there are time limits on such complaints, but feel that the reasons for the delay which are not contested, are unique.  

Recent photos 12.7.24

The recently cut grass makes the cemetery much more presentable and respectful. The graves are now generally accessible and inconsistencies in the surface of the grounds are much more apparent after the removal of years of overgrown vegetation.  David discovered an area which he calculates as being approximately 10 yards by 4 on the northern side of the path, near the area of the "Lady in the Wicker basket," which appears to have subsided below the surrounding area. If these are burials or interments, then it is almost certain that they are post 1971, as the established and publicly available records show no burials in this immediate area during the Hospital's stewardship of the Cemetery. 

Letter to the Bishop

Over a month after the Bishop gave his ruling, members who had, at his request written directly to him expressing their personal concerns about the potential de-consecration of the Cemetery had received no response from him, other than the edited version of the press statement which appeared locally. We presume but cannot be certain that the hundreds of other people and organisations who wrote to him have also not received any direct response from the Bishop. Frustrated by the process which had been followed by the Diocese and the apparent lack of courtesy and sensitivity shown, especially to the families of the deceased, the Friends have again written to him. 

Credit where it is due

Representatives of the owners have finally made some attempts to tidy up the Cemetery and cut the grass. While we know that this long overdue maintenance is intended to promote the owners interests and plans, it is still a welcome step forward and a recognition of the respect which is due the deceased and their families, which is appreciated. Members and other visitors are encouraged to visit the Cemetery while it is in this condition.

June 2024


BBC and media coverage  

The Anniversary Tour 15.6.24

Despite the inclement weather, the Tour took place on the 15th and was well-attended with a large crowd of visitors from a variety of backgrounds, many of whom had no previous connection with the Cemetery, while others had close connections to the Hospital or the local community. Nigel Evans MP and local councillors were present and there was considerable discussion about the relative abject neglect of the Calderstones Cemetery, alongside the always neat and well-maintained Queen Mary's Military Hospital Cemetery. We were fortunate to meet several knowledgeable visitors with military connections, who were able to provide a better understanding of the siting and significance of some of the military graves, and raised some specific questions about the  involvement in military exhumations which we were unable to answer, but maybe Gordon Hartley might have some information. We were very pleased to meet former staff members from the Hospital, in particular a former nurse who was able to physically identify the location of the interment of one of her deceased patients, in a location which is outside any of the official records we currently hold. Further checks are currently being made to see if we can establish more information about the details and background to this interment. 


      The Owners make an impression

Perhaps it was no surprise that with advance knowledge of the Friends Anniversary Tour arrangements, the day before the even representatives of Remembrance Parks Construction Ltd arranged to tidy up the entrance road and the area around the Booth Hall babies graves by strimming the overgrown vegetation in those areas, but the lack of awareness and knowledge of individuals is evident when they completely miss the grave of James McClennan whose memorial cross was left to peep through the neglected vegetation which surrounds it. 
The same representatives also erected signage and details of their plans which we will return to later, One of those signs has been erected directly over the area of the southern Garden of Remembrance in land which is st remains consecrated and is therefore subject to faculty approval. The Friends have written to the Diocesan Registrar confirming that this action has taken place and questioning whether faculty approval for such construction has been made or granted.

 Recent photos  

The Bishop's Ruling and a response

The local media reported on the Bishop's Ruling, one week after it was issued to them on the 24th May. A copy of the article published in the Clitheroe Advertiser and written by Robbie MacDonald is attached.  The Friends do not appear to have received any further notification or information from the Bishop, but that may follow and it is possible that individuals and organisations who submitted objections to the proposed de-consecration to him, may have already received correspondence directly from the Bishop or the Diocese   

           The Advertiser article


      Letter to the Editor

The Friends response to the Advertiser.

The Friends evidence 

Several members and other interested people who struggle to understand how the Bishop came to the decision he did, have suggested that the evidence we presented to the Bishop, in support of our request that the full consecrated status of the whole of the Cemetery should be retained as Bishop Julian had decided in 2019. We must accept that the Bishop may not have agreed with our own assessment of the evidence and instead decided that the counter-arguments of the Owners, which he had seen and understood, outweighed the Friends three separate submissions to him, and the earlier one which had persuaded Bishop Julian to retain the full consecrated status of the Cemetery. It would be useful to subject our evidence to wider scrutiny, allowing people to criticise or question the case we have made or alternatively, to consider the counter-arguments which the Bishop appears to have found more persuasive.

Over the next few weeks, we hope to present the evidence in an accessible format with appropriate explanations of details and background information where necessary. That information will be carried in the section headed "Application to remove effects of consecration from part of the cemetery 2023/24" rather than this general new section.


Gordon Hartley -QMMH

Gordon, who is one of our members and a former employee of the Hospital has contributed other articles and photos to the website previously but has now agreed to have his very well- researched and detailed history of the QMMH Cemetery, published on the site. This is a unique record of the Cemetery which we are sure will be appreciated by members and other local and military historians. Heather Nunn is currently preparing to transfer the document which should be available to read shortly.

A note of caution

  While members and supporters can give their opinions and suggestions about matters relating to the Cemetery, it is important to remember that they are not in a position to give legal advice to anybody. People requiring such advice should contact their own solicitor or somebody who is professionally qualified to provide such advice.

The Anniversary visit

On the 15th June we hope to celebrate the 108th anniversary of the opening  and consecration of the Cemetery, to coincide with the Diocesan initiative on caring for Burial Grounds. Representatives of local organisations, politicians and representatives of differing faiths are invited and we hope they will be joined by many local people and others  taking the rare opportunity to see the whole of the original three-acre site. If we have a dry day, then as usual the pristine QMMH section will impress, and leave visitors with many different emotions and questions as they pass through the Calderstones section.  

After the Ruling

We are continuing to seek advice from a variety of people and organisations, but believe that under the process which the Bishop chose to deal with this matter, there is no legal appeal open to us and his decision appears to be final. It may take a few weeks to get all the necessary information, but as we have for the past 18 years, we remain committed to opposing the development of any building within the Cemetery. Please try to follow developments in this News section, while the many questions of clarification which we are receiving. will continue to be dealt with in the Application to remove effects of consecration .., section. The Friends responses to the Ruling will be sent to the Bishop and the Media in due course

Keep the Faith - Thank you

We would like to take this opportunity to thank members and the hundreds of people and organisations who in following the Diocesan process, gave up their time to write to the Bishop with their views and objections to the Archdeacon's request, to remove the consecrated status of part of the Cemetery, solely to facilitate the construction of a crematorium. In particular, we are appreciative of the many people who were unfamiliar with the Diocesan process, and as it was possibly their first experience of such a procedure, were apprehensive about expressing their views in writing, but they did so.  

The Bishop has made his decision, which cannot be changed, but we remain convinced of the case we had made, and hope to share details of our communications with the Diocese and the evidence which we produced with a wider audience in the coming months. We remain opposed to the construction of any building in the Cemetery, and will take further advice and consult with members before deciding how we might proceed.

The Bishop's decision

The Friends are shocked and very disappointed to have received an email from the Diocese saying that subject to a series of conditions, the Bishop is minded to lift the consecrated status of that part of the Cemetery on which the Owners would like to construct a crematorium. We are not aware of the details of those conditions at this time and will want to carefully study the content of the Bishop's letter and take further advice before deciding on a response.

 We understand that members, like the hundreds of other individuals and organisations who supported our submission in their recent correspondence with the Bishop will share our sense of shock and disappointment, but we wanted to let you know about this unwelcome development as quickly as possible. Once further details are made available and we have had the opportunity to take advice and consider the situation in more depth, we will provide a fuller account of our understanding of the Bishop's reasoning and our response to his decision.

The proposed spreading of ashes

    We have had an enquiry from one of our readers, who having looked at he proposed plans which were approved by RVBC in March 2019, was unable to find any reference to where it was intended that any human remains in the form of ashes would be spread within the Cemetery, the unconsecrated woodland area, or in a location or locations away from Mitton Road. The question has been raised in the past and maybe was discussed with others, but we are currently unable to find any information or records on our files. We do still have contact with people who may have been involved in discussions at that time, and it is possible that the information may be available from the Planning Department or the current owners of the Cemetery

Visit of Andrew Stephenson MP

With the support of Councillor Mark Hindle, we were able to arrange a guided tour of the Cemetery for Andrew Stephenson who has been the the MP for Pendle since 2001 Minister of State for Health and Secondary Care. It was a useful and productive visit which coincided with the grounds maintenance work at the adjoining Queen Mary's Military Hospital Cemetery. Andrew spent some time at the entrance to the military section, absorbing the marked contrast in the way these two groups of people are remembered and cared for. As ever, the CWGC proudly maintain their one-acre for the 42, while after the wet spell, the grass and weeds hide the existence of most of their 1175 civilian neighbours, but the occasional memorial, stone, cross or wreath provided a poignant reminder to Andrew and the increasing number of visitors who see the Cemetery, often for the first time.

Who do you think you are?

We have received confirmation from the publishers that the article dealing with its history and the current involvement of the Friends and others, should appear in the June issue of the magazine, and will hopefully increase interest not only in our two Cemeteries but also other former hospital cemeteries in other parts of the country. The National Federation of Cemetery Friends  are also taking an increasing interest in these former cemeteries, and e are aware of a wider media interest in the sensitive and for some, uncomfortable history of the development, management and future of these places

The Anniversary Guided Tour

15th June 2024 2 pm. 

On the 16th June 1916 the three-acre Calderstones Cemetery was opened and consecrated by the then Bishop of Burnley Dr Henn. 108 years later on the 15th June 2024 we hope to arrange a guided tour of the whole of the original three-acre Cemetery, now split between the Queen Mary's Military Hospital section and the larger Calderstones Cemetery. We would like to encourage as many members, families friends and visitors as possible, to join us on the day,  to see the Cemetery, possibly for the first time, and learn about the location and history of the graves. Some may wish to take part in finding where certain people are buried, using the maps and guide posts which will be available on the day. The always well-maintained military section will not need any garden maintenance but energetic visitors who might like a little exercise will be welcomed, especially if they can bring along a strimmer or shears to maybe tidy a small area around a single grave. 

Close neighbours from Calderstones Park and the wider Whalley district will be welcome, along with representatives from local organisations with parish, borough, and parliamentary political representatives. The date will also coincide with the "Love your Burial Ground Week," between 8th and 16th June, which is supported by Blackburn Diocese and we hope that representatives from the Diocese and other faiths may be able to join us on the day..

St Luke's Church

The Friends were recently contacted by a Mrs Pauline Parkinson, who was enquiring if we had any photographs of St Luke's Church at Calderstones, as she had fond memories of visiting in the past, and also enquired if it would be possible to visit. Fortunately, we had a couple of photos to pass on but thought it unlikely that she would be able to visit as the church is now closed, but suggested that she should contact the new Trust. We have been pleasantly surprised to hear back from Mrs Parkinson that after contacting representatives the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Trust, she has been successful in arranging a visit to the Church, which may be of interest to other members and visitors.

April 2024

The RPC information 

Members will be aware of the delays we experienced in receiving what is said to be RPC's new and additional information which would support their claim to be aware of the deaths that took place in the Hospital and the location of all the burials and interments in the Calderstones Cemetery, The RPC claim is very important to the Friends because as far as we aware, this is the information which may have persuaded the Assistant Archdeacon and then the Archdeacon to make an application to the Bishop for the partial de-consecration of the Cemetery. We believe that based on the documents in Appendix 10 Parts 1 and 2 which we have accessed,  the claim is unfounded and the information supplied would not support the conclusion RPC appear to have reached. On the contrary, the RPC information appears to provide further confirmation to support the evidence in our two latest submissions to Bishop Philip.

We would like to encourage as many members and readers as possible to join us, in reading the full text of RPC''s Annex 10 Parts 1 and 2 which we believe is the only new information that has been provided, to see if they would reach the same conclusion as RPC, in that the post 1966 deaths at Calderstones are accounted for, and the locations of all the burials within the Cemetery can be clearly and confidently identified. 

Who Do You Think You are?

The Friends were recently contacted by journalist from the Who do you think you are? publication which unlike the TV programme of the same name takes an interest in groups and local issues which might have a wider or national interest. Having contacted Heather Nunn in the first instance, the editor followed up with a telephone interview and then an exchange of documentation, before a draft article was produced for our approval. We understand that the article will be published in the June edition of the publication and hope that it will prove to be interesting and stimulate a wider interest and discussion about the Cemetery, its history and potential future.

The QMMH Cemetery

The number of servicemen buried in the Queen Mary's Military Hospital Cemetery, has been a source of confusion for some time, with figures of 33 and 42 equally quoted with corroboration from various historical documents and articles. hopefully the confusion has been resolved and at times both figures have been correct. Following the First World War a total of 33 service personnel had been buried in the QMMH Cemetery. During the Second World War military casualties were buried in the Calderstones Cemetery and it was only after the War that the bodies of nine individuals were exhumed from there and reburied in the Queen Mary's Military Hospital Cemetery. The nine joining the 33 burials gives us the figure of 42 which appears to have been the total number of occupants since the mid 50's. details of all 42 service personnel can be found in the Records Section, under the heading of CALDERSTONES HOSPITAL CEMETERY in the index on the left

A question about the Church

We have been asked if St Luke's Church, within the Hospital when it was first established in 1916  was part of the Blackburn Diocese? There was certainly some connection with the clergy who provided services there for over 70 years, but as far as we are aware, the upkeep maintenance and management of the Church appears to have been the responsibility of the Hospital authorities, like the Cemetery, across the road, For many years, a  Reverend Harper who was also the curate of Whalley Parish Church was responsible for the many different weekly services at St Luke's Church. One of our members has also pointed out that St Luke's Church was quite unique in that it provided services to both Anglican and Roman Catholic people who worked and lived at the Hospital and through that arrangement had some connection with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford. Readers who have any further information on the history of St Luke's Church and its clergy are invited to add their contribution to our records. 

Invitation from NFCF

The NFCF or National Federation of Cemetery Friends have invited the Friends of Calderstones and Brockhall Hospital Cemeteries to attend their annual conference in Bedford during June. We are a registered ember of the NFCF which has been a consistent source of support over the past six years and hopefully will be able to send a delegate to represent us at the Conference in June.

Sean Uttley

 Representatives of the Friends recently met Sean at both Brockhall Hospital and Calderstones Hospital Cemeteries. At Calderstones, Sean, who dug the grave and buried the famous "Lady in the Wicker Basket" was able to show us the general area by the railings on the NORTH side of the central path where he buried the  Lady which we hope he will now identify on a  map although as he says, the ground is so overgrown and neglected it is difficult after 20 years to be exact within a few feet of the location but he is confident that he has been  able to identify a spot very close to the grave. On his visits to both cemeteries, Sean commented on the extremely wet conditions at Brockhall compared with the relatively firmer ground at Calderstones, and believes that the last seven months had been the wettest in his 40 years of grave digging.

March 2024

              A hectic month 

The report and accompanying documentation from RPC was finally provided to the Friends in February and we had been given a deadline of March 8th by the Bishop to complete what would be our third submission in favour of retaining the consecrated status in less than nine months. Members will recall that in July 2023 we provided a submission at the Assistant Archdeacon's request, following our meeting in June, Then on what was effectively Christmas Eve, we received the Bishop's notification that the Archdeacon had submitted an application for partial de-consecration of the Cemetery, based on a report he had received from the Assistant Archdeacon accompanied by documentation from RPC. The Friends were not provided with any copies of the documentation on which the Assistant Archdeacon and Archdeacon had apparently formed their opinions, leading to the making of the Application which interestingly was dated September 2023. We first requested access to the Assistant Archdeacon's report and RPC documentation in July 2023 and were refused by the Assistant Archdeacon on that, and two subsequent occasions. We understand that the RPC documentation was not available at the time the Christmas Eve notification was sent out, and despite our further requests for access to those documents, they were not provided to us and therefore the submission made to meet the Bishop's January deadline, was submitted having been denied access to the RPC documentation on which the Application for partial de-consecration, had been made in September.

 However, we have now received the RPC documentation and will consider it carefully before responding.

More relatives come forward

Through the Website and the Facebook page as well as the Lancashire Archives we have had more enquiries from relatives interested to discover information about their relatives who they believe were in either Brockhall or Calderstones Hospital. Some of these enquiries relate to people we know are buried in the Calderstones Cemetery and we hope to provide advice and further details where we can before arranging visits for those who would like to do so.

The Tours begin

Several people who submitted letters to the Bishop as part of the consultation process were interested to see the Queen Mary's Military Hospital section of the Cemetery and the Calderstones section at the same time. Starting in the pristine and well-tended QMMH section, visitors were impressed with the maintenance and tidiness of the military section and shocked at the comparative neglect and abandonment of the Calderstones graves. As usual, the Booth Hall babies attracted a lot of attention though the number of local people who were unaware of this part of Whalley's history was surprising. 


Problems with the Website

During the month we were suddenly hit with a massive increase in the number of people applying to register as members of the Friends. While a few is always encouraging we were inundated with requests from across the world, Japan and Russia being two of the most common and gradually realised that we had been hit with a massive amount of spam. While we continue to welcome new members, we have temporarily closed the registration process to new members and are working to resolve the problem. As we no longer operate a closed or "members only" page the only requirement is that would-be members support the objectives of the Friends, as set out in our Constitution, which is available on the Website.

Thanks to Aaron 

Councillor Aaron Wilkins-Odudu who represents the Nethertown Ward on Ribble Valley Borough Council has been particularly supportive and helpful in distributing the Friends information around his constituency and has attended other meetings. Aaron's support and local connections are particularly helpful and reassuring to neighbours who may not have understood the significance of section 5 of the Cremation Act 1902 

The Lady in the Wicker-basket

After years of trying to discover further information about this lady who was buried in the Cemetery in 2002 or 2003, we have fortunately located the person responsible for the burial, a Mr Sean Uttley, who has kindly agreed to indicate the area in which he believes the burial took place. 

Lancashire Evening Telegraph visit 

Robbie Macdonald, a journalist with the Lancashire Evening Telegraph visited the Cemetery and met several representatives of the Friends and a local neighbour and former member of the nursing staff, ahead of an article he wished to produce covering the history and current issues facing the Cemetery. Robbie spent a lot of time speaking to people getting their different perspectives and took many photographs, far more than he might use in any single article, but when he left, members were generally pleased that he seemed to have a good understanding of the general history and a detailed knowledge of some aspects such as the QMMH section of the Booth Hall babies.  

The politicians visit

We were pleased to accompany the supportive Nigel Evans MP, on a recent visit to the Military and Calderstones Cemetery. On the same visit, in wet weather, we were joined by Councillor Aaron Wilkins-Odudu and County Councillor, Ged Mirfin. The Independent Borough Councillor David Birtwhistle had already visited, so we have had a genuine cross-party interest and support for the Cemetery in the past month. 


Keep the Faith!!

The Friends need your HELP!

Please object to the removing consecration of part of the cemetery which 

  • will allow a crematorium to be built

  • disturb burials

  • create roads and car parks on consecrated land containing burials

Download the flyer 


On February 8th, The Bishop's Chaplain sent a package of documents to the Friends. It had a letter inviting them to make further representations regarding The Archdeacon's application for partial de-consecration and several documents thought to be the appendices from Remembrance Parks Construction Ltd. The Diocese had previously withheld this information from the Friends, despite specific requests in December and January. On 22nd December, the Friends had been given a tight deadline to respond to three different parts of the Archdeacon's incomplete application.

The Friends did complete a full response to the incomplete information which we had received and included a considerable amount of evidence opposing the proposed de-consecration, which we are surprised to find that the Diocese does not appear to have included in the Consultation process. That response, which asked the Diocese to encourage public consultation appears to have been successful.  A copy of our response which was submitted on the 26th of January should be available online shortly, once some confidentiality issues have been resolved.

The Friends have been invited to bring the Diocesan consultation process to the notice of our members and the general public. However, we sill need to clarify some missing information related to the documentation, its authorship and status, as well as the process and access arrangements for certain groups of people.

We believe that the consultation process can be accessed via

We hope to have more updates on this matter soon.

Access to cemeteries on Mitton Road

There is a new sign on the gates of Calderstones Hospital Cemetery detailing how to access the Queen Mary Military Cemetery via the hospital cemetery.

Click on the down load for more details

January 2024

This month has been focused on responding to the email received from the Bishop of Blackburn on 22 December 2023. He informed us that an application for partial de-consecration of the Cemetery had been received from the Archdeacon. The application was initiated by the cemetery owner's request for de-consecration. 

The Friends did not receive several attachments and evidence that were referenced within the report. Despite efforts made to obtain copies of the missing information, it was not provided. Therefore, the Friends had to respond solely to the limited and incomplete information available to them, within the tight deadline (26th January), set by the BIshop. Despite the difficulty of responding to an application without the evidence on which it is based, the Friends did their best in these unusual circumstances. We hope to share both the Bishop's request and our response with members soon. 

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Tony Lloyd- RIP

On the 17th January Tony Lloyd, MP for Rochdale died. Tony was an active supporter of the Friends especially providing support and guidance during our last objection to the Archdeacon's 2019 application to the Bishop for de-consecration when his advocacy on behalf of the deceased in the Cemetery and their families was particularly welcome. We were able to pass a message of thanks and appreciation to Tony shortly before his death but we now send our condolences to his family and the support team who assisted him in Rochdale and London

Old Brockhall