Mapledurham Playing Fields
Reading Old Cemetery
Reading Old Cemetery covers an area of 4.7 hectares and is owned by Reading Borough Council. Following a public meeting in
September 2012 regarding the future of the site and practical activities organised over the following autumn and winter by
The Conservation Volunteers, the Friends of group was formed in the
spring of 2013 to help manage
the site to enhance its conservation value and also to create more habitats for wildlife. The Friends subsequently became part of Econet.
The cemetery was opened in 1843 and is one of Britain's earliest 'Garden Cemeteries'. The site is a Local Nature Reserve and forms part of an important wildlife corridor here in East Reading. It also provides a tranquil, green oasis in what is otherwise a very built-up urban area for local residents to visit, explore and enjoy all year round.
The site contains several valuable habitats including areas of unimproved lowland grassland. Given that the UK has lost over 97% of its flower rich grassland over the past 50 years - we recognise that our site is a veritable Noah's Ark as it contains part of this precious remaining 3%.
Two areas of grassland are managed as flower rich meadows within the cemetery and as such are left uncut for 12-16 weeks - to enable the wildflowers to complete their life-cycle and set seed. The Friends of Reading Old Cemetery then help to rake off the arisings once these areas have been cut. We have also been planting Yellow Rattle into these areas with seeds collected from the wildflower meadow area in the Museum of Rural Life (MERL) by pupils from nearby Redlands School.
Reading Old Cemetery contains many mature trees, many of which date back to the original planting of the site during the Victorian period by the local company Sutton Seeds. Six of these trees are now recorded on the Woodland Trusts Ancient Tree Inventory. One of these includes a majestic weeping beech tree - which was voted as one of Reading's favourite trees!
In addition to helping with the meadow management at the site The Friends of Reading Old Cemetery also help to keep the main pathways throughout the site clear and navigable; undertake regular litter picks and create dead wood habitat piles from cut materials and other fallen deadwood on the site.
As well as our monthly practical conservation work parties, we also run regular family open days plus guided walks and talks - all of which focus on various aspects of the flora and fauna within the site. We also have a large notice board just inside the entrance to the site which is used for wildlife interpretation - including 'What is around the cemetery this month' and other information about local nature and wildlife.
Our work parties are every FIRST Sunday afternoon of the month. During the summer the run from 2 pm - 4.30 pm whilst during the winter months it is from 1.30 pm - 4 pm - we would be thrilled to see you there!
If you would like to know more about The Friends of Reading Old Cemetery please visit our Facebook page.
Contact: Please contact us via the Contacts page.
Where to find us: Google
A summary of current planned activities follows, for full details please visit our Programme.