Closure of Clearwell Cemetery Chapel.
Concerns for public safety at Clearwell cemetery chapel have led to it being fenced off and access forbidden as the entrance door is in danger of collapse from the weight of the damaged rose window above it, caused by a large tree growing next to the chapel door.
The tree was recently cut down in the hope that this will prevent further movement to the west wall but it will take some time to know to what degree the wall has stabilised.
The Cemetery (Mortuary) Chapel was designed by the renowned Gothic Revival architect John Middleton in 1867. Middleton was engaged by the Dowager Countess Caroline Dunraven whose family owned the estate at Clearwell until the late 19th century. Caroline’s ancestor bought the estate in 1642 and Thomas Wyndham built Clearwell Court 1727. The Countess engaged Middleton on the remodelling of Clearwell Court, she also used his services in the design for the building of St Peter’s Church 1866, a fine example of Gothic Revival style. Middleton was responsible for designing the frontal of St Anne’s well, repairing the 14th Century cross and designing the Cottage Hospital which is now Dunraven House.
Clearwell has been referred to as ‘John Middleton Village’ as it has the largest collection of his work in one place in the UK. This is a remarkable accolade for Clearwell and offers an opportunity for the future enhancement of its architectural heritage in the form of a heritage trail.
John Middleton was a major designer of railway buildings for the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company before taking a mysterious career break in Italy and then coming to work in Gloucestershire several years later.
The Parochial Church Council wishes to meet with those interested in finding a future for the chapel which is open to a range of possible re-uses. ‘Our aim’, said the Interim Minster the Rev Alan Wearmouth, ‘is to preserve this historical building for which our parish has no use and which we cannot afford to repair and maintain. It would be a sad loss if it was to fall into total disrepair’. The Parochial Church Council is anxious to ensure that local family associations are respected , as for example, in caring for various plaques which are contained within the building.
The Parochial Church Council would also like to hear from anyone with the requisite skills and equipment to remove diseased trees and those growing too close to the chapel. They would be glad for someone to take down the trees and remove the firewood.
A public meeting will be held at Clearwell Memorial Hall on Friday 8th December at 7.30pm, in the meantime anyone interested should contact the Parish Co-ordinator Alison Stuttard on:
6a St John’s Street
Coleford GL16 8AR