Lye & Wollescote

Lye & Wollescote Cemetery Chapels, The Black Country

Telling the story of the cemetery and it’s residents
Nominated for the Heritage Angel Awards 2016, Historic England

“It was a completely new venture for us to be working with interpretive designers, but we found it to be a pleasurable and most rewarding experience as it became evident that the skill and creativity of the Maltings Partnership would greatly enhance the simple text of our WWI Commemorative Book”

Jean Weston & Marlene Price
(Co-Authors – The Lost Twenty Nine)

The Lye & Wollescote Cemetery and Chapels lie at the heart of this small Black Country town. The Victorian gothic chapels, divided to conduct both Anglican and Nonconformist burials, had fallen into disrepair and the Cemetery – long since closed to new burials – was overgrown and neglected. The West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust recognised the heritage and local significance of the site and so in 2003 embarked on a long journey to procure funds in order to save the chapels from dereliction and restore the buildings and grounds. Grade II listing and HLF funding was secured, and in 2014 the Trust acquired the Chapels and so restoration began, with an approved change of use to provide office space and a venue for marriages. At the same time, the Friends of Lye & Wollescote Cemetery and Chapels sought to improve and conserve the Cemetery.

In 2014 The Maltings were selected by tender to develop interpretive content for the site, to include a WWI commemorative book, two travelling exhibitions, two heritage trails – one for the town and one for the cemetery itself – and four cemetery trail panels. Ian Parkin was the Interpretive Consultant, and Jean Weston and Marlene Price were authors of the commemorative book, panels and leaflets. The commission brought it’s own particular challenges – budget was limited and Jean and Marlene were both volunteers and unfamiliar with the discipline of interpretation. What they lacked in experience they made up for in enthusiasm matched with a singular determination to unearth and relate the stories which lay beneath their feet, preserving the past for future generations. For our part, for some while we had looked to be involved in a project that was linked in some way to the anniversary of WWI. The very local and intimate nature of the Lye & Wollescote scope had huge appeal – recording the stories and sacrifices of individuals is, we believe, an important aspect of this centenary of reflection on this terrible conflict.

Although a relatively small project, we found the whole experience extremely rewarding. We endeavoured to do justice to both the fallen at rest in the cemetery and to the efforts and dedication of everyone who contributed to the restoration of the Chapels. We also wanted to create a lasting legacy to the hard work of Jean and Marlene – their extensive research brought the stories of the Cemetery back to life, and their book and trail leaflets remind us all that history is about the living not the dead.

Lye & Wollesote Cemetery Chapels, The Black Country
Lye & Wollesote Cemetery Chapels, The Black Country
Lye & Wollesote Cemetery Chapels, The Black Country
Lye & Wollesote Cemetery Chapels, The Black Country
Lye & Wollesote Cemetery Chapels, The Black Country
Lye & Wollesote Cemetery Chapels, The Black Country
Lye & Wollesote Cemetery Chapels, The Black Country