St Margaret's Parish Church

Crossgate, Durham



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St Margaret’s Churchyard is a green space covering several acres of land in central Durham. For several centuries, it provided the burial place for most of the residents of west Durham City, but no new burials have taken place here since 1996 when the last section of the Churchyard was closed (though part of the Church Garth continues to be used for the burial of ashes after cremation).


The Churchyard is in three main sections:


  • The Church Garth: the area immediately surrounding the Church is known as the Church Garth, and was consecrated for burials in 1431 (though there is some evidence that its use as a cemetery predates this).

  • The 'Old Churchyard': the hilly area between South Street and Grape Lane, containing a good many mature trees, was opened in two stages in the early to mid 19th century, and remained in use until 1899.

  • The ‘New Churchyard’: the large area of sloping ground between Grape Lane and Margery Lane (and alongside St Margaret’s allotments) was consecrated in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and was in use for burials for much of the twentieth.


In the 1930s, many of the gravestones in the Old Churchyard were moved to the edge to create an open space for public benefit (under the terms of the Open Spaces Act 1906). The gravestones in the New Churchyard remain in situ (it should be noted that many graves historically would have been, and remain, unmarked).


Maintenance: Although the land remains in the ownership of the Church, the local authority (Durham County Council) is responsible for its maintenance under the terms of the Local Government Act (1972) – which recognises the fact that provision and maintenance of burial space serves a public need.


Records: Every burial that took place will have been recorded in the Church registers; St Margaret’s still holds a Register of burials since 1940, but the registers relating to earlier years are kept in Durham County Record Office, County Hall; details of these holding may be found on their website. Unfortunately there does not appear to be a map or plan giving the location of individual graves.


Access: There is no public right of way through the Churchyard (except along Grape Lane); however, the Church welcomes members of the public to visit and use the space, as long as they respect it as a place of burial and remembrance. Care should be taken, as the ground and paths are uneven in places.


War Graves: there are eight registered war graves in the New Churchyard

  • Pte. A. R. Douglas

  • Pte. M. Hall

  • Pte. R. W. Jones

  • Pte. E. Maddison

  • Pte. J. D. Mobbs

  • Cpl. J. Newton

  • Gnr. F. P. Phillips

  • Pte. A. Smith

The grave of Pte. Douglas is marked by a private family headstone; the other graves are marked by Commonweath War Graves Commission headstones, which are all of the same pattern.