Heritage Fund Project Completed

Friends of Heene Cemetery has received a grant of £10,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for an exciting heritage project, Collect, Preserve and Share the History of Heene Cemetery Burials.

Heene Cemetery received a grant on the 24th February 2020 of £10,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for an exciting heritage project, Collect, Preserve and Share the History of Heene Cemetery Burials.

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project focused on building a website to share the heritage and conservation work being carried out.

Supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project enabled a website to be designed and built and local people to learn and improve research, recording and public speaking skills.

A short quiz for adults and children was developed to interest and encourage the public to learn more about heritage and conservation that they might not know.

Sharing the heritage and conservation work being carried out at Heene Cemetery. Heritage Fund Project is now successfully completed –

Bringing the past into the present

This new dedicated website has helped people access the information, established during this project, and understand more about the heritage and conservation of Heene Cemetery.

The Cultural and Natural heritage of Heene Cemetery was identified in 1992 when Heene Cemetery was Designated a West Sussex Site of Conservation Importance, because of the “old meadow land”. This hidden haven lies within the Heene Conservation Area classified by Adur and Worthing Councils.

A group of enthusiastic volunteers formed The Friends of Heene Cemetery in 2016. They were keen to liberate the site of Heene Cemetery from brambles and invasive species.

Some of the volunteers were interested in encouraging the old meadow land to return, and in creating a haven for wildlife. Others were keen to research the people buried there and bring their stories to life.

The Heritage Fund Project Evaluation

The Friends of Heene Cemetery volunteers had been clearing brambles and invasive species for a couple of years and were gradually uncovering the gravestones, and building a spreadsheet of all the burials.

In November 2017, committee members met with a website designer who produced a logo consisting of a robin with brambles on a cross. Unfortunately, this person became ill and wasn’t able to develop a website for us.

Over the next two years, new species and stories of the burials were found and recorded.

Interest was shown by several members, and visitors, in the number of young people who were buried in Heene Cemetery.

Questions arose about their cause of death and the possibility of getting funding to cover the cost of death certificates that would help answer these questions. Other people were interested in the conservation work and the number of species that were emerging and being identified.

The desire for a website, to record and share all the data we had uncovered, was discussed again. Gradually, the project to Collect, Preserve and Share the History of Heene Cemetery Burials began to emerge.

The Funding

2019, saw the application form completed and sent to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for approval.

Commissioning a new website, recruiting and training heritage volunteers, researching the lives and deaths of individuals interred at Heene Cemetery and holding a celebratory anniversary event were all part of the project.

The Results

The website was designed and completed by Paul Edwards of ICW Digital in September 2020, and a Covid-restricted celebration picnic took place to publicly launch it.

Heritage Fund Website Launch Celebration

Six volunteers came forward to carry out the research for this project. They have now completed stories for three-quarters of the total burials in the cemetery. Sources of information were Ancestry, British Newspaper Archive, CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission), Find my Past and West Sussex Record Office.

Several of these volunteers now lead guided information tours.

The photographing of species has been carried out by one stalwart dedicated volunteer. He has enlisted the help of several specialists in their field, county recorders from the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre.

Prior to this project starting, our usual attendance at open days and tours, averaged about ten people.

Between August 2020 and March 2022, fourteen events were held, all of which, excepting one, were limited by Covid-19 restrictions.  

Each event was managed by volunteers who showcased the wildlife and heritage of Heene cemetery.  

A total of about 400 visitors attended these events as displayed in the chart compiled from the Eventbrite data:

Google Analytics

There have been 3,355 users in 8,671 sessions spending an average time of 11 mins 20 seconds on the website. 

On average users have spent between 2 and 3 sessions on the website. There have been 62,150 page views.

This chart displays the percentage views of the different website pages.

76% of users have accessed the site from Great Britain and 14% from the United States of America.

Other countries, including China, Australia, Canada, France, Spain and Germany, account for the remaining 10% of views.

Heene Cemetery Facebook Page

Facebook Analytics shows a total of 3,789 people have been reached during this project. This compares to only 1,390 people in the previous period. The interaction on posts is consistently high.

The Future

Friends of Heene Cemetery volunteers are keen to continue the burials and species research, updating the website with fascinating facts and information found by all the volunteers involved.

Donations, towards the maintenance and improvements of the website are very much appreciated.