National Heritage List for England
An 18th-century watermill, two iconic London cab shelters, a 1920s sunken garden in Brighton, First World War training trenches in Norfolk and two shipwrecks off the Isle of Wight are among the many historic sites listed by Heritage England this year. In total, 240 historic places were added to the National Heritage List for England over the past 12 months. This includes the Kibworth lych-gate which was given special mention during a recent BBC Radio 4 Today programme as being of particular merit.
Reasons for Designation
The Kibworth Cemetery lych-gate and iron gate is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* the building’s form is unusual. It fulfils the dual functions of lych-gate and as a space for conducting funeral service.
* the design uses good quality materials and skilfully executed decoration in the Gothic Revival style to successfully realise its functions.
* the building gives insight into how burial was provided for at parish level in the late C19.
* it illustrates an expedient solution to accommodating the burial practices of both the Church of England and non-conformists at the same site.
Kibworth Cemetery was established in May 1893 on land east of the neighbouring villages of Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt, immediately north of the Harborough Road. The site was purchased and administered by the burial board established by rate-payers from the joint Kibworth parishes. A clerk was appointed to administer the cemetery from 1 August 1893. Another person was employed as a grave digger and caretaker.
A lych-gate is a ceremonial entrance to a cemetery through which the body of the deceased is taken en-route from their home to place of burial. The lych-gate at Kibworth is thought to have been the work of an Edward Mason and was completed in 1894. In 1895, a local land owner, R B Haymes, provided a wheeled bier for the free transport of corpses, sparing the parishioners the cost of this service which otherwise would have been 10 shillings. The bier is still kept within the lych-gate.
Many cemeteries opened in the late C19 had two chapels, each located in a separate area of the cemetery. This was to accord with the respective beliefs of the Church of England and non-conformists. The former practiced burial in consecrated ground, and the latter did not. Newspaper reports contemporary with the opening of the cemetery at Kibworth suggest that the burial board decided on a large enclosed lych-gate in which services could be conducted by all denominations to save the expense of two chapels. The area of the cemetery that was consecrated was done so by the Church of England rector of St Wilfrid’s in June 1893.
The lych-gate was renovated and new lighting installed at the end of 2020. The lych-gate is currently kept closed, but the cemetery is in use for residents of the two Kibworth parishes.
An enclosed lych-gate of 1894, attributed to Edward Mason