The cemetery looks like one large area, but it consists of the individual plots of the 13 oldest parishes in Cambridge listed below. The land was bought by public subscription in the 19th century to extend the parishes’ burial grounds when their churchyards became full.
The cemetery was consecrated for use as a Christian burial place by the Bishop of Ely in 1848, at a formal ceremony. As consecrated ground it is there for everyone to enjoy but, like any place regarded as sacred in any religion, it should be respected.
As a closed cemetery, it is maintained by Cambridge City Council but each parish plot remains in the ownership of the incumbent of its parish. The Parochial Burial Grounds Management Committee (Parishes Committee) includes two of the parish clergy. Working in partnership with the City Council and the Friends, the Parishes Committee represents the interests of the parishes, the Bishop of Ely as owner of the paths and Avenue, and the wider Church of England. There are occasional burials in family graves, and several graves are still tended and visited by relatives and friends of those buried there. The Parishes Committee is always pleased to hear from anyone who is interested in making a donation towards grave restoration.
The cemetery remains consecrated land and work in the cemetery has to conform to the churchyard regulations and is subject to Faculty jurisdiction, the church’s system of planning permission.