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Mark’s History: Forgotten past of Armley’s cemetery lodge (which could be yours for £450k)

Francis William Parkinson was born in 1858 at Ramsbottom in Lancashire. He came from a large family of eight children, writes Mark Stevenson.

He had left school and took up the trade of a stone mason. This served him well because at the age of 33 he was now the cemetery foreman at Burngreave Cemetery in Sheffield.

He may have heard through the grapevine or other means that a job was going in Leeds. He may have been in two minds as to whether he should up sticks and move his family to Leeds as he knew the job was not a popular one.

He may even have seen how unpopular jobs affected people as his dad was a tax collector. 

In the 1850’s the people of Armley had to decide whether to accept the proposed new cemetery put forward by the Armley Burial Board or to leave it in the hands of the local vicar and to carry on burying people in the overcrowded church graveyard.

Armley hill top cemetery
Hill Top Cemetery in Armley. Photo Mark Stevenson

One argument was any profit made from the new cemetery would go back into the community and not the vicar’s pocket. Such was local opposition that it was not until 1887 that the new cemetery was to finally open. 

Francis seems to have thought it worth the risk and moved to Armley to start his new job as cemetery superintendent registrar at Armley Hill Top Cemetery.

He was to live at the Cemetery Lodge which still stands today next to the gates on Green Hill Road (and is currently for sale for £450,000 as a ‘hidden gem set in a rather enviable location’).

I assume he was to live there until he retired as he was still living there in 1911. He lived there with his wife Martha, his son also called Francis and his daughter Gertrude who was born in the lodge in 1893.

Both the Lodge and the gate posts are Grade ll Listed.

I feel I need to do a PostScript to this article because if you enter the cemetery from Poplar Gate you might notice a stone in the wall with the word ‘Lodge’ carved into it.

Photo: Mark Stevenson

I have never been able to find a map that shows that a Lodge ever stood there.

Check out more of Mark’s History column here, and our coverage of Hill Top Cemetery here.

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