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Key hill


master brummie
Hi Brian I went to Key Hill cemetery this morning, but the entrance gate was locked, only the little gate was open. With no where to park I was unable to tend to my gt grandparent grave. I wonder if you know why it was locked and also is there any truth in a rumour going around that they want to close it and are trying to trace relatives. As I say it is only rumours. Hope you are well and hope to see you at the meet.

Regards Stars (Eric)


Hi Stars, if Brian doesn't notice your post you could email the Jewellery Quarter Trust Group, www.jqrt.org to see what they think. I'm sure there was trouble recently with the local workers using the Cemetery as a free car park and causing problems to relatives etc. who were trying to tend graves.
I haven't heard about any closure of the Cemetery, I think it's "listed" so I don't think they could take any more of it but who can tell these days!


Super Moderator
Staff member
There are plans to renovate Key Hill and Warstone Lane cemeteries, and some money has been obtained I understand. I am sure they are not going to close them. I think efforts to contact relatives might be in order for them to know about the renovationsi


master brummie
Hi Rosie and Mike
Thanks for your replies. As said I thought it might be just gossip. I to heard that they had got funds
for doing up key hill and warstone lane, and thanks for the link Rosie.
Regards Stars

Key Hill Brian

Proud Brummie
Hi Stars - Don't get on the main site often nowadays, and have not heard a thing from any Friends for a couple of years now.
However Some cheap publicity stunts by JQRG have resulted in the gates being closed and often locked more nowadays. There were people parking in there, who were not visiting then cemetery, because the Council closed off the free car park in Key Hill, and put it up for sale - it's now just closed off and overgrown - so wouldn't have hurt to leave it in use!
There are a few parking soaces in Key Hill itself, or Key Hill Drive, but these fill up very quickly. Otherwise park across the locked gates!
Seems one of the JQRG actually visited the Cemetery! Rae occasion, and didn't want to squeeze past riff raff, so went for publicity, so now only those few people with keys can park in there, once in a blue moon. Than they close up behind them! Passed by a few months ago, and 2 were digging in KH, with their motor inside and gates shut - obviously now a private domain.

The Council were working on a Heritage Lottery grant, many years ago, which I understand is gradually progressing, but am unaware of the details of what was finally asked for and/or approved. Drainage & Paths were a main concern - Pathways were relaid I the past with unsuitable materials which wash into the soak away drains in heavy rain and clog the up - I have cleared them so often, but they soon clog up again with the next rains. I doubt it would be possible to connect to Sewers, because the drains that are there usually go to small sump and than a pipe goes a small way into the Grave area's where the water than soaks into the ground / graves. You couldn't really dig everyone up to lay drainage below them!

It may be worth a complaint to JQRG asking how the Disable access for all is supposed to work, now that they have buggered up access for all, but the mighty?

Contacting any relatives of people in KH would be almost impossible - all they could do is put an advert in local newspapers like they did when they dug some up for the Metro - but relatives no longer live in the area, many not even in the country - and few take the local papers!


Hi Brian, I hope you are well. We haven't been to the Cemeteries for a long time now due to health issues. I was hoping to go as soon as the weather improves but if that top gate is closed it will be very inconvenient! Do they still open the lower gate I wonder?
Last time we went past Warstone there was a barrier up, but that road's not so bad for parking.
I'm not a member of JQRT but used to be a "Friend of Key Hill and Warstone Lane Cemeteries" (We had the Hilliar Grave re-erected with your guidance!)
Some of my family were moved for the Metro!
Best wishes,

Key Hill Brian

Proud Brummie
Hi Rosie,
soory to hear about your health - it's getting to us all these days!
I assume Stars was talking about the Icknield St entrance as he got in the little gate. Last Time I passed by the KH Gates was closed but a car was inside and there were some people digging furtively. AS I was on way somewhere, I didn't stop to try and chat through the gates!
Last time I passed WL, the barrier was locked, although I think you can still enter & leave by the Icknield st entrance - unless they have reinstalled the upright bar there!

Seems some people only want access for their private club and NOT Access for All. There was free parking at the lower end of Pitsford st adjacent WL, and I'm hoping there are some spaces on Saturday for the Meet up, but I imagine they get taken quite quickly.



master brummie
Hi Bri
Thanks for the information. I have made a couple of calls, and will be making a few more.
If access is being denied to visit and tend to you relatives grave and access being denied for a disabled persons car, something seems wrong. Hope you are well. Regards Stars


We were told last year there is a three year project for the cemeteries starting in 2016, along with other projects in the Jewellery Quarter. There have already been big changes at the Pen Museum. Seems all part of a bigger plan.


master brummie
Sounds like it's all coming together - will keep an eye open!

"Will keep an eye open" Always struck me as a strange saying. Why not keep them both open & see better. Likewise, " I`m awfully afraid" or "I`m terribly sorry" What a weird language we have, although i think you have to be a bit posh to use those last two sayings.


master brummie
We haven't been to the Cemeteries for a long time now due to health issues. Best wishes,
Hi Rosie. There was a certain irony in that statement as you only get to a cemetery when there has been a health issue. I know that wasn't what you meant and sincerely hope that you improve your health and stay away from cemeteries, apart from the occasional visit. Best wishes. Dave.


Thanks Dave! Things have been very difficult but we're struggling on!
Key Hill Cemetery is such a beautiful place to visit, and we have so many relatives in Warstone too.
Best Wishes.


master brummie
I was recently looking at the JQRT site as I have several ancestors buried at Key Hill. Seeing that there is a facility to search the grave number, I entered one that I have - namely Section H, Grave No. 10, and was shocked to see that there are 575 people buried in this grave. Is it normal to have so many people buried in one grave? Presumably this would be a paupers grave?? I also checked another grave that I have and found 166 buried in that one. I had no idea that so many people could be buried in one grave!


Key Hill Brian

Proud Brummie
Judy - There are NO Paupers graves in Key Hill - This has been stated many times.
All graves had to be paid for - it was a Privately owned Cemetery - a Business.
However, you get what you pay for - and if cannot afford your very own personal private Vault, you can at least buy a space in a much larger Public Vault - Similarly not everyone can own a 20 Bedroom detached mansion - some have to live in a 20 story Tower Block alongside hundreds of unknown non-related Neighbours!
There are many such graves in KH & WL - WL has the highest amount of Burials in one grave - (another 100 more than H10) mainly due to the hundreds of Infant & still Born deaths, whose burials were undertaken by the Council, where price really matters (at least at the working end of the system).
If memory serves me right H 10 is a vault on the semi circle to the left of the Catacombs at KH - These are deep underground vaults, a coupe of which have had subsidence and temporary openings due to soil slippage in the not too distant past.
Some of these Vaults have memorial stones on the wall, but only a very small number of those buried within have their names on as it was an additional cost.
The burial Registers were photographed and computerised c/o BMSGH Volunteers, the sequential numbers of each Burial show the order they were interred.


gone but not forgotten
Hi brian
I know you said there is no paupers graves in key hill but as our friend said there was head stones with a list as long as your arm with different family names on it and I know it was a case many years ago
I got this information from the records of of the old central library stating such persons of the commu city
Whom was in poverish conditions was hurried there way back in the 1800s to the very early 1900;s
And also one of my relatives being a held from the courts of Islington five ways way back in the late
1800s early 1900 s was a paupers burial at key hill I found this on a index filing cabinet
It was a small filing cabinet standing on a table by the burials of churches stood
There was about 200 index cards with this filing cabinet and mine was on its own name as William jelf
Paupers at key hill I went to key hill armed with a map found and found some head stones as I said
And what they stated but the ones with mine had been removed from the grounds when they
Started to clear the old graves of the 17/1800s and I believe as a kid these graves was just by the far end of the
Railway lines wall coming from the hockley heading towards the city they was cleared in the early
1900.s along with the crematoriam building it was that side they virualy cleared every grave stone from the cemetery in the 1955/8 but they did do paupers graves as the early held was a paupers one there ,
Best wishes astonian,,,


master brummie
Many thanks for your detailed reply Brian. Your information was just what I wanted as I couldn't fathom how so many people would come to be buried in one grave. It is truly amazing. The vaults must be very deep to accommodate so many. I just assumed they were paupers graves with that number of people in them. My 3 x Gt.Grandmother is buried in Corridor 2 Vault, and it is her son in H10. I have others in a private grave with only 3 people in (Purdie) plus my 2 x Gt.Grandmother in G3 and 2 x Gt.Grandfather in G2. As with many others on this forum I also have quite a few other ancestors apart from these buried at Key Hill. One again thank you for your help.


Key Hill Brian

Proud Brummie
Hi Judy & Astonian,
There may be 'Paupers' buried in KH & WL but they are NOT Paupers Graves - The Graves had to be paid for - Only staff were sometimes allowed a 'free' grave. They have had the cheapest burials possible - but they were paid for - they were not buried for free - which is the definition of a Paupers Grave. They may have come from Workhouse as a pauper without a penny to their name, but the Workhouse had to pay for the Burial. The large Double sided headstones in KY are the centre of 4 graves - All Public - which means you share a grave with other members of the public - They are 11 rows deep with 5 in a row - like big can of sardines, albeit with a layer of soil etc, between each layer of people - more like a Bread & Butter Pudding.
The graves in WL right next to the wall of the Mint Building go down as far as the Mint ground level - when you are standing at the wall you are looking into 3rd floor windows. You can see how deep the graves go, after many years, the bodies in the graves settle down, so the graves are than topped up with new burials and left for 50+ years again until they have settled, etc. The Burials in the Graves go from 1860 right up to 1960.
Even today, if a person is found dead with no money, the Council has to pay (basic cost) for the funeral, so although classed as a Paupers funeral - it is still paid for - it is not a free burial by the Church or Parish, which, I understand is the official description.

Lots of names on a headstone does not mean paupers - Some vaults are private and have lots of burials in them - all are from the same family. Public graves can also have headstones with lots of names of unrelated people on them - But the families had to pay extra for the inscription as well having paid for the Burial. Some of the cheapest graves, which are multi-occupied are NOT allowed headstones - If you cannot afford a decent grave - you obviously cannot afford a headstone - so therefore not allowed. KH Section S which is unmarked area alongside the Railway wall has 24 Public Graves, of which 3 double sided headstones only were saved and moved to the Memorial Garden above the Catacombs - But the names on them are paid for as the graves were - poor, but not stoney broke.


master brummie
Thank you again Brian for the very detailed explanation of the way burials had to be paid for. I now understand the way it works. I had assumed with so many people buried in one grave that it was a 'paupers' grave. I now know better!