On 12 July a fascinating public walk and lecture about the history behind the unmarked pauper graves of Rosemary Green, situated on the outskirts of what was once Eastville Union Workhouse, Fishponds Road, Bristol.
After the 1834 Poor Law Act a paupers funeral was considered to be an extravagance that the parish should no longer pay for. Before the 1834 Act, pauper funerals were paid for by the parish, with local persons attending to the traditional funeral rituals and necessities. In other words a person with no or little money who had died was treated with respect in death and buried as a human being as would be expected, albeit simple, within the cultural rituals of the time.
But after the Act was enforced the Poor Law Unions, in order to save money, and ‘demonstrate disgrace in death of those who had surrendered to poverty‘. Death and burial practices were changed to become a disgraceful new attitude that resulted in approximately 4,000 men, women and children simply being wrapped in a shroud and dumped in unmarked graves in a small piece of land that sloped into a small river. The pauper graveyard is located at Rosemary Green just opposite Greenbank Cemetery where there is also an older pauper grave yard.
Extensive research into Eastville workhouse has been undertaken by Bristol Radical History Group and published in 100 Fishponds Road. (Book available from BRHG). Click here.
Many people have now contacted the BRHG as they suspect that their ancestors may have be buried at Rosemary Green. (Records of names still exist). If you think that you may have an ancestor who might have died in a workhouse you can contact Heritage Found, free of change, to try to find out more.
At Rosemary Green there is now a touching monument to all those souls once buried beneath.
Made of slate it reads:
Rosemary Green Burial Ground
On this site over 4,000 men women and children
who died in Eastville Workhouse,
known as 100 Fishponds Road,
were buried in unmarked graves.
A further 118 were given to the medical school.
This memorial stands in recognition of all
who lived and died in the workhouse.
Please click here to discover more and see fascinating photographs of Eastville Workhouse.