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Broadgate pauper’s graves to be marked in official ceremony

Broadgate Hospital 1910

More than 900 ‘Pauper’s graves’ in a Beverley cemetery are to be officially marked at a ceremony organised by East Riding of Yorkshire Council. The council has installed a headstone, an information board and also planted trees around the unmarked graves in Queensgate Cemetery as a mark of respect and remembrance to the people buried there.

The headstone and noticeboard will be officially unveiled at a service of dedication at Queensgate Cemetery tomorrow at 11am, led by the Rev Becky Lumley, vicar of St Mary’s Church, and Councillor Caroline Fox, chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council. Members of the public are welcome to attend the service.

A total of 935 former patients of the old Broadgate Hospital in Beverley – formerly known as the East Riding Asylum – were buried in a section of the cemetery known as the Broadgate Compartment between 1911 and 1980. All the men and women buried in that section were unclaimed by their families and did not receive a proper funeral, which is why they remained unmarked.

The only records of the people buried there are kept in the Broadgate Hospital Register of Burials, a copy of which now belongs to the council. It only records the name, sex, date and place of burial for each person.

Councillor Caroline Fox, chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “It is sad to think that hundreds of Broadgate patients were buried in this part of the cemetery and almost forgotten. Thanks to the actions of the council’s cemetery officers we hope these people can now be given the same respect and remembrance as anyone else. The headstone and noticeboard, and the trees as they grow around these graves, will stand as a reminder for generations to come.”

Queensgate Cemetery with Broadgate Compartment

The patients who died at Broadgate Hospital were buried in what were then referred to as ‘Pauper’s Graves’, which  were not marked by a headstone or any other memorial. Throughout England it was not un-common for a single pauper’s grave to be kept open until 17 or 18 bodies were buried into them.

The pauper’s graves in the Broadgate Compartment have a maximum of three burials in each grave and all burials were attended and conducted by Church of England clergy.

Between 1911 to 1980 Broadgate Hospital patients were buried in a dedicated area in the north western corner of the newly opened Beverley Municipal Cemetery in Queensgate, known as the Broadgate Compartment. After 1980 patients were buried in the public area of the cemetery.

The East Riding Asylum opened in 1871 on Broadgate, off the B1230 Beverley to Walkington Road, and housed and cared for people with mental health problems. Later known as Broadgate Hospital, it closed in 1989.

Designed by Henry Howell, a prominent architect at the time, the site included patients’ wards, a chapel, a laundry, administration block, officers’ block, and the surrounding farmland was used to provide food for the asylum as well as occupation for male inmates.

During World War I, the asylum saw inmates transferred in from other psychiatric institutions which had been turned over to the military.

During the 1920s the asylum was renamed the East Riding Mental Hospital in common with all institutions during the period in a bid to break the association with the grim reputation of Victorian times. The hospital was also expanded with the addition of two upper storeys to be turned over to use as a nurse’s home.

New housing, Maple Cottages, were then built on to the main road in order to attract married male attendants to work at the hospital.

After World War Two, the advent of the National Health Service brought all county and borough asylums into common state ownership alongside most healthcare facilities. It was brought under the control of the East Riding Hospitals management committee and was renamed Broadgate Hospital.

Following the Government’s ‘Care in the Community’ bill in the 1980s, Broadgate Hospital was eventually closed in 1989 and psychiatric services were transferred to the nearby De La Pole Hospital in Willerby.

The site remained empty for a couple of years but was then demolished for redevelopment of the site for housing.

Of the surviving buildings, three lodge cottages and the staff housing on the main road remain. The former nurse’s home, known as The Ridings, stood until recently when it was also replaced by new housing.