Certain questions tend to arise when the cemetery is discussed. We therefore hope the following might pre-empt some of the queries that pop to mind...
WHEN DID THE CEMETERY OPEN?
The first burial on site was in August 1808.
WHEN DID IT CLOSE?
There is no evidence that it was ever officially "closed". The last burial appears to have been in the early 1930s, by which time we think the cemetery was already neglected.
IS IT CONSECRATED GROUND?
Nope. Being Dissenters they didn't generally get to enjoy consecrated ground. Funny, really, when you think they were worshipping the same God as the Established Church.
IS IT A JEWISH CEMETERY?
Nope... The Dissenters' Burying Ground is a 100% Christian site, containing Christian burials. There is an older Jewish cemetery next door (which is better known) and this where the confusion arises.
SO WHO WERE THE DISSENTERS?
Dissenters were nonconformist Christians who separated from the established Church of England from the 16th century onwards. Dissenters include Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists and Presbyterians.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE BURIED THERE?
We've been through all the burial registers for the site, and records suggest there are approximately 587 people interred at Ponsharden.
WHO PUT THE METAL FENCE UP AROUND THE SITE?
The fence was kindly supplied by Sainsburys, and it encloses both the Dissenters and Jewish cemeteries. It was erected for two main reasons; 1) to halt vandalism and 2) to restrict unescorted access (as both sites are dangerous in their current condition). The fence is a temporary feature whilst repairs takes place, and it is not intended that the site remains closed forever.
HOW CAN I ACCESS THE CEMETERY?
We run (relatively) regular open days, when people can stroll around the cemetery. However, we are more than happy to arrange access at any other time. Just drop us an email (or ring Falmouth Town Council) and we will meet you down there at a convenient time.
WHY DID YOU TAKE ON THE TASK OF RESTORING THE SITE?
It was a Community Service sentence. Only joking. We're actually both from Falmouth and visited the cemetery after reading about its poor condition. It's rare to find a piece of forgotten history these days, and the mysterious, gloomy site instantly grabbed our interest. We did some research and decided that if no one else was able to make a physical start on saving the cemetery, we would crack on ourselves.
It was a monumental task to clear it by hand, and it took three years to turn the site around. But we're confident that within another three years we'll be even closer to our target of the cemetery being completely restored.
The Jewish cemetery, next door to our Christian burying ground (see map on the HISTORY page).
BUT THERE AREN'T THAT MANY HEADSTONES...
Indeed. The surviving headstones only record 235 names. That means the site is densely packed with unmarked graves.
Hundreds of unmarked graves lie beneath the open grass.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT IF SOMEONE I AM LOOKING FOR IS BURIED AT PONSHARDEN?
We have transcribed the burial registers for the site. Find out how to search them online by clicking HERE. Alternately, you can email us your query or purchase your own copy of our full transcription HERE.
WHAT FUTURE PLANS ARE THERE FOR THE CEMETERY?
We would like it to be opened to the public (as a place of quiet reflection), but first the collapsed entrance and boundary walls have to be restored. These repairs will require considerable sums of money.
Tom and Rob surveying a newly discovered grave
Before and after photos, showing the changes that are taking place to save the cemetery.
The temporary security fence surrounding both the Dissenters' and Jewish cemeteries.