Often people think of going for a ‘nice walk in the park’- but what kind of ‘park’?
Have you ever thought of a cemetery as a kind of park or do you never even consider that it could be ?
Well the layout of Holbeck Cemetery was planned on 21st October 1857 by a famous Victorian landscape gardener called, Joshua Major.
Joshua was born in 1786 at Owston. near Doncaster. He was the most important landscape gardeners resident in Yorkshire in the 19th century. Joshua wrote books on gardening and contributed to the Gardeners Magazine .He founded a nursery garden at Knowsthorpe in Leeds and won awards at various flower shows in the area. His son, Henry, became a partner in the firm and they were involved in landscape design and the firm was commissioned to landscape Hanover Square in Leeds in 1824.
Joshua entered competitions to design some of the earliest public parks . He won the commission to design Peel Park in Salford, Queens Park and Philips Park in Manchester .These parks were in densely populated areas and financed by public subscription and included areas for sport , recreation and walking.
He also designed a ‘paisley shawl’ bedding design in the garden of Shibden Hall near Halifax.
Today as you walk through Holbeck Cemetery you can still appreciate some of Joshua’s planting 157 years later. If you follow the winding path from the small gate on Beeston Road to the main entrance gates on Fairfax Road you will walk through the magnificent cherry trees . Just near the central grass oval you can marvel at the beautiful willow tree ( you can even hide among its bright green leaves that reach the ground). Other winding pathways that he designed are harder to spot as they are grass covered but they are there if you look hard enough, some have daffodils planted there to give you a clue!. They take you past monuments that commemorate the people of Holbeck . Spend some time to look hard at the designs and see what you can spot;check out song birds carved there, just like the ones who nest in the cemetery today. Check all those different occupations of the people of Holbeck. Can you find the organ builder or the artist with its palette?
Try a walk in this kind of ‘park’ in the morning or evening -it may surprise you .
Holbeck Cemetery is at its most beautiful at the moment with its trees in full blossom