Margate cemetery volunteers say urgent repairs are needed to 19th century chapel

Friends volunteers, trustees, chairman Humphrey Dawson (right) and Margate mayor Rob Yates (left)

The Friends of Margate Cemetery say repairs are desperately needed to the consecrated chapel in St John’s Cemetery.

The building, which dates to 1856, has damage to the roof, cracks in the walls and damp which is turning the pews green.

The volunteers have been looking after the cemetery grounds since the charity  group was created in 2001 by former council chairman Margaret Mortlock.

Friends chairman  Humphrey Dawson said: “Thanet council granted a lease on the (chapel) building to the charity to assist with the upkeep of the cemetery and care of the wildlife, trees and flowers in the cemetery, Thanet council is required to keep the structure, including the roof, properly maintained, which they are defaulting on at the moment.”

The lease is £600 per year but Thanet council had issued an annual grant for that sum to the group until 2008. The arrangements then changed to a service level agreement although the terms were essentially the same with the rent covered by funding from the council in return for the continued care of the site by volunteers.

Humphrey said: “The lease expired on 31 October 2022 and we remain in occupation under the Landlord and Tenants Act.

“In November we agreed terms for renewal of the lease and service level agreement but said before (signing the) lease we want the building repaired. That, sadly, is where we are still at almost a year later.”

Trustee Shirley Tomlinson and treasurer Iris Crowhurst said the group are most concerned to save the mural inside the chapel which has become damaged.

It was initially uncovered when the Friends first took on the chapel and redecorated it. The mural dates to the time of the chapel being built.

Iris said: “Another concern for us is we do not want the plaster to start falling off as this will make repairs more expensive.”

A meeting of the Friends on Monday (September 25) was attended by Margate mayor Rob Yates who is also an existing trustee.

He told the group that he will take the issue back to council to see what funding might be available.

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “Thanet District Council is responsible for keeping the structure of the chapel repaired, including roof timbers and the exterior of the property.

“Council officers are looking into options for funding repairs to the roof and rendering.”

The Friends of Margate Cemetery would love to welcome more volunteers to the group.

Volunteers take part in jobs such as gardening and clearing graves. The group also run coffee mornings every Thursday from 10am and runs community projects. The volunteers meet on Monday mornings from 10am.

St John’s Cemetery contains the war graves of 53 Commonwealth service personnel (two unidentified) of World War I  and of 83 (three unidentified) from World War Two, in addition to 18 German airmen (one unidentified) who are buried with 50 of the British casualties in a war graves plot in Section 50.

To find out more contact Iris at [email protected]

Find the Friends of Margate Cemetery on facebook here


  1. Surprise, surprise, – yet another property owned by TDC that TDC has allowed to fall into a state of disrepair . . .

    Officers and elected members (past and present) must share the blame and responsibility for allowing this to happen.

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