Family's horror as they find grave hidden by thick undergrowth at historic Sheffield cemetery

A woman has spoken of her horror at the state of a historic Sheffield cemetery, which is so overgrown she was unable to find her parents' grave.

Tuesday, 14th November 2017, 5:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:01 pm
Patricia and Max Robertson during their visit to Loxley Cemetery on Sunday

Patricia Robertson and her son Max made the long journey on Sunday from her home in Somerset to Loxley Cemetery, where her parents were laid to rest along with her grandparents, aunt and uncle.

But the 89-year-old's mission to pay her respects was thwarted as she found a tangle of undergrowth and trees obscuring her relatives' final resting place.

Loxley Chapel, which closed in the early 1990s, was gutted by fire last year

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"We think we know where they are but that section's been so badly neglected the graves are hidden behind brambles and trees," said the former teacher, who grew up in Pitsmoor and Ecclesall.

"I had been warned about the state of the cemetery but I was still horrified to see how overgrown it has become.

"It was incredibly disappointing to come all this way and not see my family's grave, despite spending an hour and a half looking."

She added that many of those gravestones which had not been consumed by thick vegetation were sinking into the ground, while the Grade II-listed 18th-century chapel, which was last year gutted by fire, was in a 'sorry state'.

Mick Drewry among the undergrowth at Loxley Cemetery

Mrs Robertson last visited the cemetery for her grandmother's funeral in 1950 and was shocked by how badly it had declined over the intervening years.

The cemetery, where many victims of the Great Flood of 1864 are buried, is believed to have belonged to Hague Farming of Bradfield before changing hands last year.

Mick Drewry, whose maternal grandparents are buried there, has long campaigned for it to be better maintained.

He claimed the new owner, a Mr Ali, outlined plans earlier this year to convert the chapel into a heritage centre and build housing along the driveway leading to the cemetery.

No new burial plots are being sold at Loxley Cemetery, but some people still own family graves where they are due to be interred when they die

But he said there had been no progress regarding those proposals, or the creation of a friends group to look after the site, since initial discussions this summer.

He said the site, where new plots are no longer being sold but his mother has a place reserved alongside her parents, has been allowed to fall into disrepair since around the turn of the century.

Heritage campaigner Ron Clayton is particularly concerned about the fate of the chapel, which he believes to be the oldest building in Loxley Valley.

He says he is growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of action.

Loxley Chapel, which closed in the early 1990s, was gutted by fire last year

It is understood the owner did carry out some clear-up work this summer but campaigners say they have since been unable to contact him.

The Star has attempted to contact the cemetery's owner.

Mick Drewry among the undergrowth at Loxley Cemetery
No new burial plots are being sold at Loxley Cemetery, but some people still own family graves where they are due to be interred when they die