Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Abbey Lane Cemetery in Sheffield

The crest of the 38th (The King's) Searchlight Regiment

My exploration of the historic architecture of Woodseats and Abbey Lane had taken less than an hour, but I encountered various sandstones that I think were quarried in Sheffield – including examples of the local Greenmoor Rock in the boundary walls of Woodseats Council School and for the principal building stone at St. Chad’s church.
The entrance to Abbey Lane Cemetery

Reaching the main entrance to Abbey Lane Cemetery, I didn’t stop to examine the stonework closely but the massive sandstone, used for the ashlar and rock faced masonry that comprises the bulk of the walling, seems to be quite different to those previously seen.
The lodge at Abbey Lane Cemetery

The yellowish coloured arches to the pedestrian entrances need a closer examination when I next visit, as does the snecked stonework in the lodge, which is composed of large blocks of massive sandstone mixed with quite thick beds of Greenmoor Rock.
The headstone of Able Seaman T. Cooper

Apart from knowing that the cemetery was opened in 1916, I have discovered very little else about it but, having soon caught a glimpse of a few of the very distinctive Commonwealth War Graves, I spent 45 minutes randomly searching for regimental crests that I had not encountered before.
The headstone of Captain E. Bush

Within a couple of minutes, I had found the headstones of Able Seaman T. Cooper of the Royal Navy, Captain E. Bush of the Royal Mechanical and Electrical Engineers and Private T.R. Duckenfield of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, who had all died during or shortly after WWII.
The headstone of Private T.R. Duckenfield

All of these are made in Portland stone, but the headstone of the latter is in much better condition than the others, with very sharp profiles to the lettering, which suggest that this is one of the modern replacements that has been made with a CNC milling machine.
The headstone of Aircraftman J.W. Mawson

The headstone of Aircraftman L.W. Mawson of the Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve is also very modern and has a very well defined profile but, looking closely at the stone, its general texture and lack of fossils indicates that this is Botticino marble from Italy.
Various regimental crests carved in Portland stone

Continuing with my exploration, I discovered the crests of the Catering Corps (Private R. Harrison), the Australian Imperial Force (Lieutenant D.C. Mackenzie), the Auxiliary Territorial Service (Lance Corporal M.E. Wilkin), the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (Private J.H. Hudson), the Royal Army Service Corps (Driver F. Costall) and the Pioneer Corps (Private J.W. Ardron) – all of which are carved into Portland stone headstones.
The escarpment of Greenmoor Rock and Chancet Wood

Stopping briefly to look at the escarpment of Greenmoor Rock and Chancet Wood on the skyline, I encountered a further example of Portland stone, Gunner K.A. Haywood of the 38th (The King’s) Searchlight Regiment, and the Botticino marble headstone of Private G.J. Harper of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.
Headstones of  K.A. Haywood and G.J. Harper

The vast majority of Commonwealth War Graves that I have seen are made of Portland stone, with a minority that have been renewed with Botticino marble but, as I discovered at Crookes Cemetery, Scottish granite was also used along with a dark grey granite that I could not identify.
The headstones of Private E. Gollings and Private T.E. Chollerton

At Abbey Lane Cemetery, the headstones of Private E. Gollings of the Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) and Private T.E. Chollerton of the 21st Battalion of the Australian Infantry look like they are made of a similar granites. Having sent photographs of these to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, I was advised that these could be Vire Blanc or Glenaby granite from France, which were used for later memorials when the Scottish granites were either unavailable or had become too expensive.
The memorial to Stefan Andrzei Finka

Although very large, the cemetery was built at a time when the grandeur of the Victorian and Edward memorials had largely faded into the past and although I still saw several large granite obelisks and crosses, the vast majority are standardised and I was therefore very pleased to encounter the simple medium grained gritstone memorial to Stefan Andrzei Finka.
The memorial to Stefan Andrzei Finka

I finished my brief exploration of Abbey Lane Cemetery by having a good look at the very solid looking chapel of rest, which is built in a style that I had seen in many churches that were built at a similar time. Like many chapels that I had previously seen in other cemeteries in Sheffield, which are listed, I thought that it possesses architectural merit, yet I have not yet been able to discover which architect designed it. 
The chapel of rest

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