Harold Mytum and Anna Fairley 2023

University of Liverpool, UK

What to do when there’s no Roman Catholic cemetery: burial management at St. Patrick’s Church in the context of Liverpool’s 19th-century burial crisis

The 19th-century burial crisis in urban churchyards was ultimately resolved through the creation of cemeteries. Some of these were open to all denominations from the beginning, but others limited those who were accepted. In Liverpool, cemetery access was delayed for Roman Catholics, and there were few churchyards of that denomination, so when St. Patrick’s in Toxteth opened in 1829 it became a very popular choice for burial until compulsory closing of the city churchyards in 1854. This paper explores how around 15,000 people could be interred at St. Patrick’s in 35 years. Using the limited surviving documentary sources and recent archaeological surveys undertaken at the invitation of the current congregation at St. Patrick’s Church, it is possible to model a management system that would have enabled this intensity of burial on a small and constrained site. We also compare this experience with the subsequent options for Roman Catholics available at Ford and Anfield cemeteries from 1856 and 1863 respectively.


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