The inception of Alleyfield dates back to 2004, when long-time resident of Ickleford Mrs Dorothy Parker offered the gift of a plot of her land. The existing churchyard at St. Katharine’s, which has been used for burials since the year 1210 was almost at capacity at that time. It was Mrs Parker’s wish that this land be used to provide a new burial ground for those with a connection to the village. The Parish Council was very grateful for this kind offer and instigated a working group of volunteers who could take this project forward.
Whilst the total area of land was over 4 acres, it was decided to develop approximately 30% which leaves significant scope for expansion in the longer term as the need arises.
An initial planning application was lodged in 2005 and there then followed a number of archaeological, aerial photography, geophysical and desktop surveys to investigate feasibility of using the site, in conjunction with the Environment Agency and the County Archaeologist. In early 2008 an application for change of use of the land (from agricultural to burial ground) was granted and a subsequent survey of village residents demonstrated the desire to progress to full planning, which was granted by NHDC in March 2009.
The Ickleford Burial Ground Trust (IBGT) was formally established in 2009 for the purpose of creating, maintaining and managing the Burial Ground and is a registered charity.
Initial funding of £50,000 was awarded from NHDC whilst smaller donations and grants came from WREN, Bowmans and a number of local funeral directors.
A design and access brief was put together by IBGT with work starting on site by a local contractor, Maydencroft later that year.
“Alleyfield” the new name for Ickleford Burial Ground was adopted and the site formally opened on 29th April 2010. Mrs Dorothy Parker, who donated the land, cut the ribbon and very enthusiastically declared Alleyfield – Ickleford Burial Ground open. She said “I understand now how elated my father felt when in 1926 he gave the land for the building of the Village Hall.” She went on to thank Ickleford Parish Council for their 5 years of persistence in overcoming many hurdles in making the day possible.
Cllr Philip Crowe, Chairman of Ickleford Parish Council gave a brief account of the problems encountered in those 5 years and then as Chairman of the Trust, Colin Thurstance outlined the 12 months of work carried out by the Trustees to achieve the opening date.
District Cllr Linda Needham spoke on behalf of NHDC and congratulated everyone involved in creating such a magnificent site.
Finally, Reverend Margaret Holford said how badly the village needed the new burial ground and expected many people would be able to spend quality time in both mourning and dwelling on past memories of their loved ones in such a pleasant and peaceful area.
Today, Alleyfield operates as a non-denominational burial ground, open to all those who have a connection to the village of Ickleford and offers a tranquil and peaceful final resting place.