Warstone Lane Cemetery, Birmingham

The catacombs at Warstone Lane Cemetery

The catacombs at Warstone Lane Cemetery

This grade-two-listed cemetery is where atheist printer John Baskerville is buried.

Warstone Lane Cemetery was opened in 1848 by the Birmingham Church of England Cemetery Company and acquired by the Birmingham City Council under a compulsory purchase order in 1951.

Baskerville left instructions in his will that he was to be buried in a lead coffin in a conical vault which he had prepared, in his own garden. After the house was sold in 1788 the vault was removed, but the coffin remained until 1821. The open coffin was put on display, for 6d a head, until in 1829 people start to fall ill!

The coffin was reburied secretly among others in a church vault and only rediscovered in 1892. When the church was demolished in 1898 he was reburied in the catacombs at Warstone Lane.

Previously the catacombs’s unpleasant smells had led to the Birmingham Cemetery Act (1846?) which required that non-interred coffins should be sealed with lead or pitch.

The cemetery chapel of St Michael at the cemetery was demolished in 1954 but the grade II listed  blue brick cemetery lodge survived today.

Visiting

The cemetery is open to visitors (see website for opening times). The number 101 bus goes there from Birmingham City Centre; Jewellery Quarter rail & Metro station.

See also…