The History

On the 14th October 1873, a group referred to as “the committee of visitors elected...on behalf of the county of Somerset, to represent the Pauper Lunatic Asylum erected for the sole purpose of the said county”, paid the sum of £400 for “one close of meadow or pasture a place called Broadstone”.
This land, lying just off the Bath Road in Wells, was purchased from the trustees of the estate of the late Edmund Davies.

The committee intended that the land should be used as a cemetery for the Somerset and Bath Lunatic Asylum, later known as the Mendip Hospital. A few months later the committee purchased an additional strip of land to allow access to the cemetery from the Bath Road. In January1874 the cemetery was consecrated. The chairman of the committee of visitors, Francis Henry Dickinson, gave the undertaking that the cemetery would be enclosed “by a substantial stone wall and secure entrance gate”, and that a chapel would be built and “furnished with all things necessary for the convenient performance of the burial service”.

By 1921 more space was sought which resulted in an area of land to the west of the cemetery being consecrated. This brought the size of the cemetery up to nearly 3 acres.

In 1948 the hospital cemetery was transferred to the Minister of Health by virtue of the 1946 National Health Service Act, and it has remained under the ownership of the NHS since then.

A large percentage of the graves were marked by a simple iron marker. Most of these were removed before July 2000.

During the 85 years that the cemetery was in use, 2,900 burials took place. The last ones on the site were in 1963.

Later the upkeep of the cemetery passed into the hands of the Somerset Trust for Nature Conservation who intended it for use as a nature reserve and environmental study centre for local schools. Unfortunately their plans never came to fruition, and in early 1997 the gates were locked and all maintenance ceased.

Things stayed this way until July 2000 when NHS Estates intended the Cemetery to be sold at a public auction. Described in the sales brochure as a “freehold development opportunity” this statement was later acknowledged by an NHS representative to be an error. It was withdrawn from sale at the last minute following intervention by Wells MP David Heathcoat Amory representing the views of many local people.