Westgate Hill Cemetery, one of the earliest C19 cemeteries in the country is a graveyard dying. The cemetery is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: One of the earliest garden cemeteries in England (1829), opened in the earliest decade of cemetery design, and the earliest in the North-East.

Newcastle on Tyne City Council's Shame

Neglected cemetery 'not priority' 24 September 2009
Cleaning up a neglected Newcastle graveyard that attracts drunks and drug users is not a high priority, the city council has admitted. Westgate Hill cemetery, in the west end of the city, is a local shortcut and is no longer used for burials. People living nearby have complained about overgrown vegetation and anti-social behaviour. The council said it recognised the problem but that its resources had to be spent on busier public areas. Tony McKenna, head of leisure services, said major refurbishment work in Jesmond Dene, Leazes Park and Exhibition Park had to take priority. He said Westgate Hill's pathways were checked weekly and a "deeper clean" took place each year. But he accepted the site needed a thorough makeover. He said: "We recognise it is a problem and we know there are several areas of the city that need improvement. "We will get to Westgate Hill cemetery eventually. It's a question of how we target our resources - we've got to make sure we use them to the best effect. "The council is also working closely with the police to tackle anti-social activity in the graveyard, he added. The city's "working graveyards" are maintained to a high standard, Mr McKenna said.

Note: Westgate Hill Cemetery is a Grade II Registered  Historic Park & Garden and falls within the SUMMERHILL conservation area. In Newcastle on Tyne and in Tyneside generally, the term listed, protected and conservation are meaningless words as this cemetery is testament. There are numerous examples around the North East of England should you care to look. Tyneside is forever crying "we want the Lindisfarne Chronicles back. I suspect they would end up in a council tip eventually if they were, like many of the gravestones and memorials from the regions graveyards. How can any authority be trusted with any historic artefact when it treats its own like this.

A 2007 video made by Graeme Stickings who lives, or did live then, opposite the cemetery. Today in March 2011 the cemetery mainly through neglect, has deteriorated badly.

These pictures were taken in the 1980s. Click the thumbnail to view large. (to be activated shortly)




y the 1820s Newcastle's churchyards were at breaking point and little space remained for the burials of the city's dead. The only other burial place in the vicinity of Newcastle was the Ballast Hills burial ground near the Ouseburn, but it was overcrowded inconvenient for travellers and suffered from 'nightly deprivations of a unspeakable nature' (Today unfortunately it must be said suffer much the same not only at night but in daylight too) The Westgate Hill Cemetery Company was established in 1825 in order to raise £3500 in shares to build a cemetery open 'to the whole human family without difference and distinction'. ('A Fine and Private Place', 2000, Alan Morgan, p7) The cemetery itself (also known as Arthur's hill) was designed by John and Benjamin Green and built in 1829 and consisted of three acres of unconsecrated ground situated opposite the earlier graveyard of St. Paul's Chapel.
Left: An 1829 plan view of the cemetery.

Newcastle upon Tyne, 14th April, 1832. "
DEAR Sir, — On the breaking out of the Cholera in this town, the committee of the Westgate Hill General Cemetery, appropriated the south-west corner of the ground for the interment of such persons as might die of that disease. They ordered that no dead body should be brought into the chapel, but be carried at once to the grave, which by the regulations of the trust, could not be less in depth than six feet from the surface, and that the sexton should always throw a quantity of quick lime on the coffin before be began to throw in the earth. lam not informed of the precise number of persons who had died of this, disease who were buried in this ground, as the committee had no power to make any regulations respecting interments in vaults or in graves, the private property of individuals ; but a considerable number must have been interred. After the disease became very fatal, the officers of the various parishes, sent the bodies of all persons who bad to be buried at the public expense to the New Cemetery, as the church-yards were so crowded that it was not deemed prudent to inter persons dying of this disease in them. "
I am, dear sir,
"your's sincerelv"


     Who is Buried here


20338 Private W. Schoolar Aged 43 of the 1st West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own) Died April 18 1918 at the London Military Hospital. He was the son of James Schoolar of Newcastle and the husband of Marie. They lived at 107 Eastbourne Avenue. Gateshead. Private Schoolar is also commemorated on the screen wall, in the CWGC part of the West Road Cemetery. 
 View epitaph & more


There are 15  First World War casualties buried in this cemetery

William Oliver
Wrote Newcastle Props one of the best of the old Tyneside songs. Born in the Side, Newcastle, Feb 5 1800. Father was a cheesemonger.
William became a draper and hatter who worked with Mr. Bowes, the Bridge End, Gateshead. Later after trying business on his own
he joined his brother Timothy as a grocer at the corner of High Bridge in the Cloth Market. A collection of his songs was published in
1829 dedicated to Robert Bell, Esq. Mayor of Newcastle. He sympathised with the agitation proceeding the passage of the Reform Bill
of 1832. Of his political songs is England Awake. Oliver took part in social gatherings at public houses with tradesmen after business hours.
He was very popular as both singer and writer. Such groups were- Sons of Apollo, Stars of Friendship, and the Corinthian Society.
His songs were highly popular. Died. Oct. 29 1848.

John Bruce Aged 60. d. Oct 31. 1834. Was the headmaster of The Percy Street Academy. His monument, a magnificent structure was erected over his grave in the North West part of the cemetery overlooking Elswick Road.. See (below) also
This wonderful classical monument with its twelve magnificent Ionic columns, was designed by the local architect John Green. There is no longer any trace of it (I wonder where it went?)

Thomas Telford
City Councillor, Brush Manufacturer. Born 1819. Died in Newcastle on the 16th July 1893.

Jane Richardson (nee Wigham) b.19th March 1808.In the 1830s she lived at 6 Summerhill Grove, in Westgate, St John's parish, Newcastle. She was recorded there with her husband, six children, and four servants, in the 1841.  census. d.5th Dec 1873. Bur. 8th Dec 1873.

John Brodie Gilroy Famous for his son The Noodle. This seems to be his only song. He was Foreman at Lambert's Printing Office, Grey Street. He was well read
with ready wit and great natural ability. He was famous for extraordinary sayings uttered when he was angry.  He is known for being warm hearted and generous beyond his means but he had a hot and fiery temper. He led a pure and sinless life. Died early 1853 at age 35. Buried with his trousers and boots on

Edward Richardson 12th January 1806, in St John's parish, Newcastle. In April 1826, with John Richardson, Edward was one of the founding twelve members of the Newcastle Book Society. He joined the Newcastle Lit. & Phil. in 1828. In April 1827 he was one of two representatives from Newcastle to Monthly Meeting, held at North Shields. In 1828 Edward served three times as representative to Monthly Meeting, in January, September and November. In October he was listed as one of the trustees for the meeting house and burial ground. On his marriage he had taken up his residence at 6 Summerhill Grove. On the 24th November that year he had intended to go with his family to Gilsland for a little change, but during the night he was seized with severe pain, and on the following day was very weak, and not suffered to converse. He had been out in the cold a few days previously, & had taken a chill which brought on, worse than before, his constant cough. On the 26th he looked very ill, but he spoke a few words cheerfully. On his son John going to take leave of him for the night he said to him very impressively yet cheerily, "John, my lad! I wish thee to know that when my Maker calls me to him, I shall go joyfully, yes joyfully!" It was arranged that Anna Deborah should watch by him during the night. He passed the hours quietly until about three or four o'clock in the morning of the 27th, when he took a fit of coughing, burst a blood vessel, and suddenly died in her arms, with little pain, as she was supporting his head. His death certificate confirms that he died at home, from chronic bronchitis of long standing and three days of pleuro-pneumonia; he is described as a tanner master. His body was buried the following Wednesday (2nd December) in Westgate Hill cemetery

Thomas Spens. Lithographer.  He died on 24 Sep 1875 in St. Andrews, Newcastle. He was buried on 28 Sep 1875. Ward E., No. 189
Esther Harrison (wife of the above). She died on 22 May 1889 in Micklegate, York,  She was buried on 25 May 1889  She married Thomas Spens lithographer on 8 Jan 1838 in St. Andrews, Newcastle on Tyne,

John James Spens
(son of the above) was born on 22 Apr 1839 in Cannon Street, Gateshead, He died on 27 Nov 1839 aged 7 months in  Cannon Street, Gateshead. He was buried on 29 Nov 1839. John James's name on family headstone, buried Ward Q. No. 54, depth 5 feet, died of hives.
Also noted to be buried with Thomas  is Agnes Spens, a dau, age 31 and Isabella is said to have died 20 Mar 1866, age 62.

Esther Watson. At Cumberland-row, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Esther, widow of the late Joshua Watson, of Bensham, in the County of Durham, aged 76 years. An Elder. After a long and painful illness, which she bore with great patience and resignation. The interment took place at the Westgate Hill General Cemetery, on the 12th inst., and was attended by a large circle of relatives and friends, by whom she was much beloved. A very solemn meeting was held. from the  The Friend and The British Friend sources for Quaker family history in the 19th century.
In the early 1800's Joshua Watson, a Quaker and a cheesemonger, living over his shop in Newcastle Upon Tyne purchased Bensham Grove in Bensham, Gateshead. The River Tyne, although not as polluted as it was to become, was already showing signs of the hive of industry and commerce it was to be in the future. It was no surprise therefore that Joshua was attracted to the golden cornfield, bluebell woods and windmills of Bensham as it was at the time. He bought it as a country cottage, near enough to continue his busniess next to the river but rural and healthy for his children.
And so began the life-long involvement that three successive generations of Watson's had with the house called Bensham Grove. Joshua's son Joseph and in turn his son Robert Spence enlarged and improved the house resulting in an eclectic mix of Georgian and Victorian features.
Robert Spence Watson (1837-1911) together with his wife Elizabeth (1838- 1919) were perhaps the best known. A Quaker and a noted Liberal Robert spent his life championing the cause of the working man and the oppressed. An educator, he was also a politician, traveller, poet and writer.

Elizabeth (nee Richardson) was a moving light in women's rights and education as well as helping the poor of Gateshead in many ways. Robert and Elizabeth, at home in Bensham Grove, became host to a variety of visitors including, Artists, Craftsman, Educationalists, Reformers, Poets and Politicians. On the death of the Spence Watson's, Bensham Grove became an Educational Settlement doing much work during the Depression in the thirties

Rev.Timothy William Potter Taydler b.2/3/1818 d. 13/4/1885 and his family
are buried in Holy G Westgate Hill.

Maria Millburn  was born on 21 Jan 1798 in Hatton Gardens, Holborn, London. She died on 8 Sep 1872 in 1 Mosley Street, All Saints, Newcastle upon Tyne. The cause of death was Natural decay, old age. She was buried on 11 Sep 1872 in Westgate Hill Cemetery, Newcastle upon Tyne. She married Joseph Corbett on 8 Jan 1834 in All Saints, Newcastle upon Tyne. She resided in 1861 in 86 Mosley Street, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Clennell family tomb.
Headstone. Circa 1854. Signed Pearson of Gibson Street. Sandstone ashlar. Round-topped
moulded slab commemorating John and Elizabeth Clennell of St. Peter's Quay died 1854
and 56, their son Luke and members of the Clennell family to 1938.
Luke Clennell was one of the best of a vigorous school of Newcastle painters

Cuthbert Douse. Born: 7 May 1855, Wallsend, Tynemouth, Died: 4 Jul 1856, Westgate, Newcastle on Tyne, at age 1.Death recorded in Westgate Hill General Cemetery, burial no. 9473, Ward J. No. 161,depth 6 feet, aged 14 months, son of Cuthbert Douse, joiner, Spring Garden. Lane in District of Westgate, died of  glands;

 William Mitford was born in Preston, Near North Shields, April 10, 1788. An important songwriter. Parents died when a child brought to Newcastle by an uncle at age 3-4 years. Apprenticed to shoemaker in Dean street possibly to the father of Willie Armstrong. The Budget or Newcastle Songster was published in 1816 by Marshall, in the Cloth Market. This work contained 11 songs. Mitford is known for: Cappy, The Pitman's Courtship and X.Y. Mitford played the part of the bishop in the coronation held on the festival of St. Crispon by the Cordwainers July 29, 1823 at the Freeman's Hospital, Westgate. At this time he quit shoemaking and opened a public house on the edge of the Leazes, near to the Spital tongues, called the North Pole. While there he wrote the song: The North Pole. Later he left the North Pole to go to the more central Tailor's Arms at the head of the Side. William Watson mentions him as being there in 1834. Eventually Mitford retired to live in his own house in Oyster Shell Lane at the head of Bath lane. He died there on March 3 1851 at the age of 63.

A Native American Iowa child, Corsair. ....... Corsair was born while his mother was sailing down the Missouri River, the first part of her travels to the United Kingdom. It was on another boat, this time from Edinburgh to Dundee, Scotland, that the 8-month-old boy died. He was buried in February 1845, after the Iowans conducted their funeral rites and then allowed burial by the Society of Friends, or Quakers. The Quakers had become the Iowans’ “firm and trusted friends,”
Corsair was buried Feb. 12, 1845, in a donated plot in Westgate Hill Cemetery, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  Corsair’s mother later died of tuberculosis and was buried in Paris.
(photograph below)
Elizabeth Spence Watson: Reminiscences Jan 8 1918
I should have mentioned, much earlier on, the visit to NEWCASTLE, of some American Red Indians – I forget of what tribe they were. I think my cousin, Anna Henry Richardson (Anna Henry as she was generally called) was instrumental in bringing them over. I remember some of them coming to tea at our house in SUMMERHILL GROVE, all in their “war paint and feathers”, and how I fell in love with a little boy about my own age, who was beautiful in my eyes. A little Indian baby was born when they were in NEWCASTLE, and it was called after “Anna Henry”, with a long-sounding Indian name besides. It died and was buried in the Westgate Hill Cemetery, a stone with inscription being put up over the little grave. When the road was widened many years afterwards, this little graver with many others adjoining, disappeared.

Elizabeth Angus..... Elizabeth Angus was the first person to be interred in the new cemetery on October 18. 1829. See more below.


The Goths and Grave Robbers  (The Evening Chronicle. Nov 23 2005)
When police went to investigate reports of strange happenings at a Tyneside graveyard they made a macabre discovery. The story, in the Evening Chronicle in November, 1984, showed grave robbers had plundered family crypts which had lain undisturbed for more than 130 years. The story became even more gruesome when they traced the crime to a group of men calling themselves the Gentlemen Of The Club, otherwise known as a weird pop group called Metgumbnerbone, who specialised in Tibetan trumpet music. These young men had used the bones they had taken from the crypts to make musical instruments by drilling small holes in them. When police raided the home of one of the men in Northcote Street, Newcastle, they found a welcoming sign above the door - an imitation axe and the Metgumbnerbone emblem of a skull. Inside the house they found several bones lying around the living room, thigh bones and skulls on the kitchen table and bags of skulls waiting for attention. There were also books on sexual deviation and black magic, as well as other aspects of the occult. Hanging on the living room wall was the black magic symbol of inverted triangles in a circle. A huge flag covered one wall with its gold on black emblem.
When the five men were arrested they admitted attacking three graves and removing skeletons. Altogether there were 10 bodies of men, women and children. The group also kept a manuscript of their dark deeds. They told how on a midnight raid at the Westgate Hill Cemetery in Newcastle they smashed crypts and entered the vaults where complete families lay at rest, their bones encased and neatly stored. Using shovels and torches they dug their way underground, risking becoming trapped under the ancient stone and marble.
A CID spokesman said the case was a sickening misuse of the sanctity of the dead. From their inquiries detectives were left in no doubt that the club members had been indulging in ritualistic rights of the black arts.
The five musicians, Alan English, of Jesmond, John Smith, of Hartlepool, John Mylotte, of Newcastle, Sean Dower, of Benwell, and David Stewart, of Swalwell, were charged with robbing graves and causing damage in Newcastle's Westgate Hill Cemetery.
Mylotte admitted three counts of digging open graves and removing the contents. Stewart admitted two similar charges, as did English. Smith and Dover admitted a joint charge of opening a grave and Mylotte admitted stealing a brass grave plaque. And Mylotte, Stewart and English admitted damaging property belonging to Newcastle City Council.
Sentencing Mylotte, Stewart and English, Judge Myrella Cohen said was satisfied occult practices were behind their sinister activities. Stewart and English were given 12 months' jail and Mylotte, described by Judge Cohen as the "lynch pin" behind the offences, 18 months. Dower and Smith, both students, were said to be the least involved. Smith was given 160 hours' community service and Dower, who was at Newcastle University, 100 hours.
Target of a family crypt
The members of the Metgumbnerbone group, also calling themselves the Gentlemen Of The Club, documented their deeds in manuscripts, which read: "It was not a long walk to our goal. And once there we speculated as to where at first we should strike.
"On what piece of ground should we first lift the spade to the earth. Name, sir, which grave that man has made to incarcerate.
"Christian, in undisturbed rest, sent in tomb to lie in peace, inviolate, shall we in turn violate?
"Our destination, which you will perceive, was to the cemetery given into the parish of Elswick.
"Here we did find our first objective. A crypt belonging to a family.
"It had been much labour to shift the uppermost piece of brickwork upon which the grave slab rested.
"We charged Mylotte (John), being of slightest build, to take the honour of entering first ...
"They had lain unmolested for 130 years ..."

(Ligeliahorn was recorded during the summer of 1983 at The Ruins of Industry, Elswick, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; long abandoned post-industrial sites along the banks of the River Tyne providing ideal if somewhat hazardous environments for the sort of musical activity Metgumbnerbone is known for - i.e entirely live on location improv / action in which the location itself determined the musical outcome as much as did the performers and / or their instruments).

Tuthill Stairs Chapel (Particular Baptists)
As early as the year 1651, a Baptist minister preached in the neighbourhood of Newcastle, and very probably in the town; but no record of the affairs of this people has been preserved previous to the year 1725, when they purchased the property they now possess in the Tuthill Stairs. This property extends 68 yards on the east side of the stairs, and is 43 yards in breadth. On it was a very large and highly ornamented room, which, from some figures on the wainscotting, seems to have been built in the year 1585. (fn. 33) Above this room was a dwelling-house, and a vestry adjoining to it. Here the Baptists assembled for public worship for 73 years, during which period the Rev. David Fernie, the Rev. John Allen, the Rev. William Pendered, the Rev. John Foster, and the Rev. Thomas Skinner, were in succession the ministers. Mr. Allen was an ingenious, lively, and voluminous writer. "The Spiritual Magazine," and his other works, are very popular, especially with persons of high Calvinistic sentiments. Mr. Pendered was an upright, sincere, and independent man. He was turned off for preaching against usury, two leading members of the congregation being pawnbrokers. The valuable writings of Mr. Foster have imparted a just cele brity to his name. His "Essay on the Evils of Popular Ignorance," has been highly appreciated by the severest critics. Mr. Skinner died in 1795, very much esteemed.
In 1797, the congregation resolved to erect a new chapel on the vacant ground above the old one. The foundation-stone was laid on the 17th of July that year; and the chapel was opened for public worship on February 19, 1798. It measures 55 feet in length, and 44 feet in breadth, and cost in building £1300. Half of this sum was contributed by one generous member of the body, Richard Fishwick, Esq. by whom the lead-works at Low Elswick were originally established and conducted. He also paid £200, to rescue the property belonging to the congregation from the hands into which it had fallen by the death of the former trustees.
The Rev. Thomas Hassel was ordained pastor on the day after the new chapel was opened. On his removal to Ireland, the Rev. M. Cracherode became minister, and was succeeded by the Rev. Thomas Berry, an amiable man, who died in 1804. The next minister, the Rev. W. Hartley, was succeeded by the present one, the Rev. Richard Pengilly, from the Bristol academy, who was ordained in August, 1807. A number of members, in 1816, seceded from this chapel, and formed another Baptist church; yet, notwithstanding, the congregation continued to increase so rapidly, that in 1820 a commodious gallery was erected at the west end of the chapel. Before the pulpit is a convenient baptistry, covered, except at times of initiation; and, at the west end of the chapel, two spacious vestries. The late Rev. Charles Whitfield, of Hamsterly, and the Rev. Joseph Kinghorn, of Norwich, were originally members of this church.

General Views of the Cemetery


 Individual Gravestones, Monuments & Memorials


Obituaries & References



Above: Elizabeth Angus was the first person to be interred in the new cemetery on October 18. 1829.








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