WATCH: Consecration of Alnwick Cemetery extension

The new extension at Alnwick Cemetery was consecrated yesterday - set aside as sacred land forever - providing space for another 750 burial plots.

Alnwick Cemetery was opened in 1856 and there have been 18,634 burials to date in its 160-year history. The first extension was consecrated in 1911, while the last consecration before yesterday's was in 1992, which added an additional 600 plots, 36 of which now form the new natural burial area.

The consecration of the extension at Alnwick Cemetery. Picture by Jane Coltman

The consecration of the extension at Alnwick Cemetery. Picture by Jane Coltman

The consecration was carried out by the Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Rev Christine Hardman, and was attended by Jane Lowden, the Diocese Registrar, Rev Canon Paul Scott and church wardens from St Michael's Church, other local clergy, Mayor of Alnwick Alan Symmonds, other town councillors and officers.

The service started with everyone, led by the church wardens and the Bishop, making a circuit of the area to be consecrated whilst Psalms were read. This was followed by the legal part of the ceremony when the sentence of consecration was read out and the official documents were signed by the Bishop and Coun Symmonds. It ended with the Bishop making the sign of the cross with her staff within the new area to signify its importance.

John Humphries, chairman of Alnwick Town Council's cemetery committee, said: "Alnwick Cemetery were incredibly fortunate that the Bishop of Newcastle personally carried out the consecration of the new area. It's not often that you get to witness such a unique event.

"The consecration of the extension means that the people of Alnwick and Denwick will be have a sacred place to lay their loved ones for the foreseeable future."

The consecration of the extension at Alnwick Cemetery. Picture by Jane Coltman

The consecration of the extension at Alnwick Cemetery. Picture by Jane Coltman

Consecration does not make the soil more holy, but it does set the area aside as a sacred space forever and is the greatest protection afforded by English law.

Anyone who would like more information about Alnwick Cemetery should contact the town council on 01665 602574 or alnwicktownclerk@btconnect.com