Then – Stories in Stone

Undercliffe Cemetery in Bradford, West Yorkshire is often described as the finest Victorian Cemetery outside London. Its trustees say that it tells the stories that make up Bradford’s history; these stories are literally ‘stories in stone’.

Many Bradford men (and boys) who fought in World War I are buried in the cemetery.  Some of them were badly injured, returned home and died of their wounds (in nearby St Luke’s Hospital). Others survived the war and lived to an old age. Their  memorials in stone remind us of their important (often forgotten) stories, their courage and bravery; but there are other graves in Undercliffe cemetery, which tell of a very different sort of courage.

These graves belong to Pacifists and Conscientious Objectors, who spoke out against the war, refused to fight and refused to kill. Below are a number of their stories, researched by Shannen Lang.  These are now included in a heritage trail which can be followed at Undercliffe Cemetery and in an accompanying booklet, which also tells the stories of some the many soldiers buried there. These are stories of people who made very different choices and faced different consequences as a result.

Such stories are to be found  in cemeteries and on memorials across the country, providing a rich resource for SMSC, learning outside the classroom and community based education.

The Quaker Burial Plot at Undercliffe Cemetery. Source Wikipedia Commons.

The Quaker burial plot at Undercliffe Cemetery, Bradford. Wikipedia Commons.

Did you know?

  • The Undercliffe Cemetery Company was formed in 1849
  • The first interment took place in March 1854
  • Unlike churchyards where rich and poor were buried side by side, one’s ability to pay decided the site of a grave
  • There is a Quaker plot in the cemetery, where a number of COs and pacifists are buried
  • If you were a Methodist, Congregationalist or other non-conformist Christian you were buried in the ‘non consecrated’ part of the cemetery
  • ‘Company Graves’ for those who had very little money to pay for an elaborate grave, are often unmarked and located in the more remote areas of the site.

Untold Stories in Stone

These stories are for teachers, they may interpreted and used in a variety of ways, not least of all to discuss different values, beliefs, democratic rights, freedom of speech, the rule of law, responsibilities and justice; as ever providing opportunities to pose the question ‘What would you have done?’

Click here  Choices-DLBlueSto read and download Amos’ Story.

Click here Choices-DLBlueSto find out more about how we know these stories.

Click here Choices-DLBlueSto download a useful guide for researchers.

Stories in Stone written and and researched by Shannen Lang –  Intern, Peace Museum, 2014.

To find out more about Undercliffe Cemetery visit