By Peter C. Jupp
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Extra resources for From Dust to Ashes: The Development of Cremation in England, 1820-1997
The recommendations of his Report were radical and comprehensive; the existing urban burial grounds should be closed, intra-mural burial forbidden and new cemeteries built beyond the suburbs. For Chadwick, the new cemeteries could not be entrusted either to the joint-stock companies or to the Churches: his solution was national cemeteries, financed by the national government.
Three facets of the Reformation in England are particularly important for an understanding of burial tradition. The first was the outlawing of relationships between the living and the dead (Thomas, 1973; Kreider 1979). The Reformation closed the chantries and forbade intercessions for the dead: the 1552 Prayer Book removed the commendation of the soul and substituted the committal of the body (Rowell, 1977: 87). The doctrine of Purgatory was abolished (Le Goff, 1984). Gittings discerned in latemediaeval funerals a precarious balance between ‘an increasingly individualistic philosophy and a collective approach to the problem of death’ (Gittings, 1984: 39).
Monopoly ownership of churchyards by the Church of England had other consequences. First, urban Nonconformist Churches who had owned burial grounds since before 1850 lost them under the new laws. Secondly, the religious census of 1851 stimulated the Free Churches to an unprecedented programme of chapel building. Hardly any of these provided burial grounds. This removed the Free Churches’ proprietorial interest in burial grounds. I offer the hypothesis that these facts supply a reason why some Free Churches were able to march in the forefront of theological liberalism.