1930 : Reburial of bodies from Zion Chapel

From the Norwood News – Friday 11 April 1930, via the British Newspaper Archive.

80 BODIES BEING RE-BURIED.

The Closing of a Mitcham Cemetery.

SECOND COMMITTAL SERVICE.

A somewhat gruesome business has been started upon this week at the burial ground of Zion Congregational Chapel, Western-road, Mitcham.

Owing to the sale of the property, it became necessary to remove the human remains interred in the old burial ground. There are about 86 bodies buried in the graveyard, dating back to a hundred years ago, when the chapel was founded. A licence from the Secretary of State for the Home Department was required for the removal of the remains, and this having been obtained, the work of removing the human remains, monuments, and tombstones from the burial ground commenced on Monday.

HOW IT IS DONE.

Mr. Donald S. Drewett, undertaker, of Upper Green, Mitcham, was given the task, and with an efficient staff of workmen carried out the task very expeditiously and reverently.

Canvas awning is erected around the graves, and the operations of the diggers is hidden from the public gaze. The strictest privacy is maintained, and only the medical officer’s representative and the Mitcham Council’s chief sanitary inspector, along with the minister (Rev. T. King), are allowed in the grounds during the operations.

Liberty was afforded the relatives of any deceased person, whose remains it was proposed to remove, to undertake themselves the removal of such remains, and a few availed themselves of the privilege; but the removal and re-interment are being carried out by the same workmen.

A SECOND SERVICE.

Large shells, or coffins, six feet long, are being utilised for the removal of the remains, and these are being conveyed in the undertaker’s van and re-interred in the Council’s new burial ground, London-road, where the Rev. T. King has conducted a second committal service, the reburial being a very reverent and solemn affair.

A gravedigger told our representative : ” The work is proceeding without much ado, except that we are screened off from the public gaze. Now and again we have met with a spring of water, and this has somewhat interfered with our operations a little. Most of the coffins fall to dust soon after they are exposed to the air. We collect the bones and put them carefully into new shells or coffins. A plan of the burial ground shows the positions of the graves and the monuments, and the names of the buried persons, as far as they can be ascertained, are kept as a record. The monuments and tombstones are being pulled down, and will be re-erected in the new cemetery. Every care is being taken that the remains are reinterred and the monuments re-erected in a manner that will give no offence to anybody.”

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