Secret garden blooms again

Volunteer Planting in the Secret Garden
Volunteer Planting in the Secret Garden

A £50,000 project to plant new seeds of life into a forgotten garden in Scarborough is almost complete.

The Secret Garden, in Manor Road Cemetery, now features a York stone pathway running through it, as well as new handrails and steps to make it an easier place for visitors to explore.

Secret Garden Landscape

Secret Garden Landscape

The mortuary chapel in Dean Road Cemetery has also been restored as part of the project, which has been carried out by Scarborough Council in partnership with the Friends of Dean Road and Manor Road Cemetery and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

To mark the completion of the two-year project, the friends’ group is planning a Grand Celebration Day in the cemetery on Sunday, September 9 from 11am to 3pm.

For the first time in many years it will be possible to go into both chapels in Dean Road.

There will also be many activities for children, a genuine Victorian sideshow known as the Palace of Curiosities, a guided walk, exhibitions and stalls, and a cemetery trail from the mortuary chapel to the Secret Garden.

To add to the celebrations there will be live music, with local musicians playing in different locations throughout the cemetery.

Jan Cleary, chairman of the friends’ group, said: “Many people have contributed to the success of the project and it would not have been possible without the hundreds of volunteer hours put into clearing the Secret Garden and into the many other tasks involved in developing education packs for use by local schools.

“We hope the involvement by primary school children will lead to them developing a pride in the cemetery and over time reduce the number of incidents of anti-social behaviour in there.”

Steve Reynolds, Envrionment and Countryside manager for Scarborough Council, added: “I am pleased to see the completion of this exciting project.

“The Secret Garden is a very atmospheric area having been hidden away for so long.

“Now, for the first time in many years it is accesible once again for visitors to the cemetery to enjoy.”

Many people have contributed their childhood memories of the Secret Garden and some of these have been recorded as podcasts on the friends’ website at

Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and the Humber which provided financial backing for the project, said: “The Secret Garden project has provided wonderful opportunities for the community to share their fond memories of a local hidden gem, bringing its stories to life.

“As with so many heritage projects, the Secret Garden has seen an enthusiatic local volunteer group make a real difference in their area.”

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (sustains and transforms a range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, the fund has supported more than 33,000 projects, allocating £4.9 billion across the UK.