Campaign starts to get listed status for chapel

Ocklynge Cemetry chapel
Ocklynge Cemetry chapel

THE chapel at a cemetery full of war dead from around the globe could soon become a listed building.

Almost 200 veterans – mainly from the Great War – are buried in the grounds of Ocklynge Cemetery, with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission funding the upkeep of 178 plots at the Willingdon Road site.

Among that number are South Africans, Canadians, New Zealanders and Brazilians laying alongside locals and servicemen and women from across the British isles.

Most come from the Army, which has more than 100 people buried there, but the Royal Navy and the RAF are also well represented among the 129 burials of the First World War and 44 from the 1939-45 conflict.

However, while the cemetery is well used, the chapel is closed to services and there are concerns it may fall into further disrepair and end up earmarked for demolition.

For that reason, Eastbourne politicians have begun campaigning to have the building, which dates back to 1850s and is one of the town’s oldest buildings, given listed status. Old Town Councillor John Ungar has written to English Heritage asking the body to do just that.

He said, “This beautiful historic building is much loved by local people. By listing this building, a direction will be given enabling Eastbourne people to gain the benefit of this beauty for many years to come.”

And the campaign has gained cross party support. Cllr Philip Ede, a member of Eastbourne Borough Council’s Conservation Area Advisory Group, said the building was ‘charming’ and his Tory colleague Cllr Patrick Warner said the building was a ‘rare example’ of early Victorian architecture in the town and should be protected.

The chapel was designed by architect Benjamin Ferrie, who also designed Christ Church, and many of the people buried in the cemetery were patients at Eastbourne’s military convalescent hospital which, at its peak, saw 16,000 people go through its doors – with only 100 of them eventually succumbing to their wounds.