It is time once again for one of my favourite events of the year – Heritage Open Days when places that would normally be shut to the public throw open their doors.
I have been to some great places over the years (you can read about those here) and have an interesting few lined up for this year, starting small with “Rediscovering Our Forgotten Heritage”. This was an exhibition by photographer Matt Emmett who specialises in architectural and heritage photography – think old crumbling and ivy-covered buildings.
There was a small selection of Matt’s work in the Junction Arch which sits at the entrance to the Old Reading Cemetery, an area known locally as Cemetery Junction, immortalised in the film of the same name by local boy Ricky Gervais.
The images were beautifully done and made me want to improve my photographic skills.
Reading Old Cemetery
After a look at the pictures, we wandered into the grounds of the cemetery that sits behind the arch between the London and Wokingham roads. As you can see from the pictures below it is not very well maintained and was very overgrown in places. Despite this, there are still a small number of burials here each year of people whose families have had plots for a long time.
TO THE PROUD AND BEAUTIFUL MEMORY OF AIR PILOT BERNARD LAURENCE THE BELOVED ELDEST SON OF B. L&L. HIEATT. WHO WAS SUDDENLY CALLED AWAY IN HIS HOUR OF VICTORY ON MAY 30 1930, AFTER CREATING TWO WORLD RECORDS IN THE TWO HUNDRED MiLES MOTOR CYCLE AND SIDECAR RACE AT BROOKLANDS AGED 21 YEARS
Most of the plots had typical headstones but one particularly stood out for the large marble plinth on top of which was a lifesize statue. This belonged to Bernard Hieatt who was an accomplished motorbike racer and died young at the age of 21. His family clearly loved Bernard very much as the statue cost them the equivalent of £100,000 in today’s money. However, I would have been a little put out had I been one of Bernard’s brothers who get a small mention on one of the sides of the monument, rather than something as grand for themselves!
The cemetery was an interesting place to visit and reasonably tranquil given the hustle and bustle that surrounds it which is why, allegedly, several muntjac deer live there, but not somewhere I’ll be visiting on a regular basis.