On a cold but sunny November day, local residents joined Bathscape volunteers and young people from Bath Rugby Foundation’s Employability Programme to improve the Workhouse Burial Ground in Odd Down, acknowledging its past and making it more wildlife friendly for the future. Students from Bath Spa University were also with us to record the day.
The group planted hundreds of Spring bulbs and cowslips in selected areas. After creating patches of open ground, we sowed wildflower seed. The patches look a little severe, but will help wildflowers establish. The Council’s Parks department has been actively involved – changing the mowing regime and preparing the ground.
The young people raked off cut grass cuttings in areas where wildflowers were already present to help new growth. The aim of this is to encourage a flower-rich meadow rather than just grass, which will improve the look of the site and attract pollinators.
A simple plaque has been put up on the site, as until now there was nothing to reveal that this is the last resting place of thousands of people who died in the Bath Union Workhouse in the late nineteenth century and were buried in unmarked graves. A yew tree was planted as a natural, lasting memorial.
The next phase of work will be to plant trees and shrubs at the edge of the meadow area and add an information board and benches. Long term the aim is to create a beautiful and contemplative space for people to enjoy and wildlife to thrive, whilst respecting those buried here.
This builds on the awareness raising and memorialising, that has been done over the last few years, notably those who have been reading the names – you can see more about this moving tribute here.
Bathscape is grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, players of the national lottery, Neighbourhood portion of CIL and Odd Down Community Association for contributing funding to this project.