18 June, 2024


 July 2020 Update – A Lee from a report by Jeremy Cope
Since the start of lock-down the grasses and greenery have grown with their usual vigour, resulting a verdant panorama with a golden laburnum shower, to my eye rather beautiful. It’s well worth a walk round. The photographs give an idea of how it looks.

Cowgate 2020
Glorious Cowgate






Once Homeless folk are absent, housed because of the lock-down, leaving the cemetery tentless and virtually litterless. I guess – hope – they are in a better situation as is the case with the cemetery.

Work Party Dates 2020
As soon as the rules allow groups to work then we shall be back. We usually work the first Thursday morning and the second Saturday morning in the month but this may vary according to the weather and holidays.
If you would like to join our happy band then please contact .
secretary@thedoversociety.co.uk for more information.


Volunteers From the Society Hard at Work

The cemetery is situated beneath the Western Heights with its entrance at the top of Cowgate Hill and has an area of just over two acres. Opened by St Mary’s Parish Church with the first interment in 1837 it was the successor to the old churchyard. The cemetery was closed to general use in the 1870’s with the opening of the Copt Hill cemeteries but continued to be used where plots had already been purchased or there were vacancies in family plots. The final burial took place in 2006, and was that of William Ebenezer Petchey aged 105, a member of the family who were for a long period sextons at Cowgate.

In the 1960’s Dover District Council, the responsible authority, decided to plant the area with a variety of trees and shrubs and thence followed a period of benign neglect. In 1989 responsibility was passed to White Cliffs Countryside Project who managed the cemetery both as a closed cemetery and a nature reserve. The latter is recorded on his iron headstone as having buried over four thousand people (more than half the total entered in the Burial Register) between 1857 and 1881.

In 2001 the Dover Society became involved with the maintenance the cemetery and has gradually taken over the whole area under the direction of White Cliffs Countryside Project.
The work of maintenance involved clearing excess trees and undergrowth, a task that took place over several years, but has left the cemetery with tree cover typical of a park. Our aim is to manage the area as a hay meadow cutting the grass in the Autumn and raking into tidy piles and in this way to best combine the cemetery’s roles as a nature reserve, accessible to family historians and a pleasant walk for all.

Maintaining a wildlife and plant habitat is not always appreciated.

Our ability to attend on all the maintenance dates in the past two years has been much affected by the weather, nevertheless over that time we have managed to continue to improve the overall appearance and condition of the cemetery, which is entirely thanks to the joint efforts and generous commitment of the present volunteers. New volunteers are always most welcome.

Contact Jeremy Cope  01304 211348  Email jeremycope@willersley.plus.com