Memorial rose at St Albans mental hospital cemetery

From left at the Hill End Garden of Rest, Highfield Park, are: Roger Thomas (chair of Highfield Park

From left at the Hill End Garden of Rest, Highfield Park, are: Roger Thomas (chair of Highfield Park Trust); Richard Bull (park manager); Gary Moyle (archivist, Heritage Services, HALS); David Davies (who has a relative buried in the garden); trustees Tim Abbott, Sue Gaylard and Sarah Graham; Catherine Newley (curator of collections, post medieval to contemporary, Museum of St Albans). - Credit: Photo supplied

ONE of the more than 1,000 people laid to rest unceremoniously at the burial ground for two former mental hospitals in St Albans has had a rose planted in commemoration of her death over 50 years ago.

David Davies, of Tuddenhan St Martin, north of Ipswich, visited the Hill End Garden of Rest, Highfield Park, to plant a rose in memory of his great-grandfather’s brother’s daughter, Flora May Winter.

His relative was a patient at the Hill End Asylum from 1906 until her death in 1962. Flora and her mother had previously been residents in the Barnet Workhouse.

The garden is managed by the Highfield Park Trust, which has transformed the once-forgotten site into a more dignified setting for the 1,019 people buried there.

It was the burial ground for patients and staff of the former Hill End and Cell Barnes hospitals, both of which closed in the 1990s.

Patients were only entitled to a pauper’s burial and were laid to rest in communal graves, atop or beneath other corpses, without a headstone after a hurried 10-minute ceremony.

A spokesman for the trust said members had “worked hard to restore the Garden of Rest and preserve it as a peaceful haven for wildlife, in memory of those staff and patients buried there”.

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Recently joining David at the garden were Catherine Newley, curator at the Museum of St Albans, and Gary Moyle, archivist of heritage services at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, Hertford.

Catherine and Gary helped park trustees Sarah Graham and Sue Gaylard with research for new information boards recently installed at Hill End.