Memorial Chapel to Second World War Civilian War Dead of Plymouth and as a community space dedicated to cultural and educational purposes. The restoration of the Victorian Chapel enables the conversion to a Heritage Centre of the existing 1960s Chapel, built on the footprint of a Nonconformist Chapel destroyed in the Blitz.

history Campaign has now closed

It ran from 11:27 AM, 16 November 2008 to 11:27 AM, 16 November 2008

Registered Charity in England and Wales (1079060)




  • Arts/Culture/HeritageArts/Culture/Heritage
  • Community Support & DevelopmentCommunity Support & Development
  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment
  • Sports/RecreationSports/Recreation
  • OtherOther


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Older PeopleOlder People
  • Women & GirlsWomen & Girls
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)
  • OtherOther



Ford Park Cemetery Trust (“the Trust”) is a volunteer organisation formed in December 1999, with the strong support of Plymouth City Council and the community, to take over and manage Ford Park Cemetery, a 13.96 hectares (34.5 acres) mid-nineteenth century cemetery within 12 minutes walk of Plymouth City Centre, which had become overgrown and vandalised and, to the deep concern of the community, had for a time been closed. From the start the Trust has sought to integrate the Cemetery into the life of the City. It has achieved much in the 8 ½ years of its ownership. It has established a successful burial business enabling it to employ 7 full-time and 2 part-time staff, it has cleared the landscape and planted nearly 500 trees, it has established learning programmes with the community, schools and the University of Plymouth, 740 schoolchildren having visited the Cemetery in the past four years, and it has carried out a major grave restoration programme. The Chapel Project is to restore the surviving Grade II Listed early Victorian Gothic Decorated style Chapel which was completed in early 1849 to the design of J R Hamilton and James Medland, two Victorian cemetery designers of note. It is the only surviving example of their cemetery chapels. The building is on the Buildings at Risk Register and for the past 25 years at least it has served as a machine store. It dominates the Cemetery and stands at the head of the original burial ground, which is itself Grade II Listed in the Register of Parks and Gardens of Historic Interest. Once restored the Chapel will not only serve as a funeral chapel but also as a most valuable community and education space. Its intimacy (it seats around 100), its ambience and its superb acoustics make it an ideal niche venue for a range of music events and in addition it will be equipped as a modern lecture space with facilities for visual presentations. Such a purpose designed lecture facility is essential if the Trust is to deliver its learning programmes. It is hoped that the restored Chapel will also host a range of family events, including weddings. Finally, it will be dedicated to the Civilian War Dead of Plymouth, 1939-1945, and, if funds permit, the names of each will be engraved on slate tablets behind the altar. The Trust’s aim is that it should be a much used and loved community building. The restoration of the Victorian Chapel makes possible the conversion of the existing 1960s Chapel to a Heritage Centre (“the Heritage Centre Project”), which will be the venue for a continuous cycle of exhibitions on the social and economic history of Victorian Plymouth, as reflected in the lives and achievements of those buried in the Cemetery. This is a ground breaking idea in the context of a Victorian cemetery and so far as the Trust is aware it has not been previously attempted in the United Kingdom. It is only made possible by the enthusiasm and dedication of the Trust’s 45 or so volunteers who were honoured in 2005 by the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. Not only do these two projects reflect the belief of the Trust that if cemeteries such as Ford Park are to survive they must be as much for the living as for the dead but they are also underpinned by the conviction that it is not enough to restore the historic environment. Restoration must by sustainable and this can be achieved by the greater education and community use of that environment. The financial position is as follows: The Total Cost: £652,963 Monies Committed: HLF £463,000 Plymouth City Council via Landfill Communities Fund £96,400 Southwest Museums Hub £3,000 Ford Park Cemetery Trust £16,000 Local Community including Gift Aid (to date) £28,216 Total raised to date £606,616 Monies to be raised £46,347 It is likely that the community will achieve the target of £30,000, leaving a funding gap of £45,000 which the Trust to date has not been able to bridge from grant making charitable trusts. Unless the Trust can raise the funds to bridge the gap by late August work cannot begin in October and the two Projects will have to be abandoned due to rising building costs. The Heritage Lottery Fund grant will be lost and four years painstaking work with it.