We learned that the land which would become the cemetery had been purchased from Earl Spencer in 1884 and that the chapel was built in the same year. It was intended as an overflow from the other three graveyards already located in the Parish. It is a large, well laid out cemetery with a number of paths.
I was already aware that Sam Ryder was buried here so it was appropriate that this was where we aimed for first. I am not sure what I was expecting but he is buried towards one of the corners of the cemetery in an ordinary looking grave. It just says "Samuel Ryder 1858 - 1936. His body to the pleasant country's earth and his pure soul unto his captain Christ under whose colours he had fought so long".
Many will know that Sam Ryder started a seed business from his garden shed in Folly Lane, St Albans in the 1890's and started selling seeds in penny packets. He became a well known and successful businessman, serving as a local councilor for 13 consecutive years and was Mayor of St Albans in 1905. On his doctors advice he took up golf and joined Verulam Golf Club in 1910. Sixteen years later in 1926 he proposed a challenge match between the USA and Great Britain & Ireland which would become one of the greatest competitions in the world. It's a pity that more is not made of his St Albans connections because it's a wonderful story.
There are many more interesting stories hidden among the graves and Mike Neighbour introduced some of these to us including that of Jonas Ellingham, a station master with Great Northern Railway, who was murdered in the station house by his deranged wife in 1918 and is buried in an unmarked grave. His wife, who had tried to commit suicide after the murder, was later found unfit to plead and was ordered to be detained at His Majesty's Pleasure.
They weren't all local servicemen, some were from the Middlesex War Hospital which was established at Napsbury during WW1 and some from Hill End Hospital which had been taken over by the military authorities during WW2. There were unusually a few paired headstones which we subsequently discovered were hospital burials done simultaneously with individuals being buried shoulder-to-shoulder in a continuous trench.
As ever, these graves provided a poignant reminder of the sacrifice so many young men gave.