HERITAGE & BIODIVERSITY OF VICARAGE ROAD
By the 1880’s the existing cemetery had reached capacity and it was extended with land purchased from The Earl of Essex on the 31st December 1884.
In 1929 a new feature was added to the cemetery buy way of the large war memorial that sits near the entrance to the entrance on Vicarage Road.
During the 1920’s the cemetery was near capacity again and a new cemetery site was developed at North Watford Cemetery which opened in 1931.
The original lodge, gates and non-conformist chapel were demolished in 1959.
Vicarage Road cemetery sits within The Square Conservation area. A full copy of which can be found here.
Memorials at Vicarage Road - There is a wealth of historic memorials at Vicarage Road Cemetery ranging from modest headstones to elaborate carved headstones.
Notable Burials - The Capells and the Hyde Villiers, Earls of Essex and Clarendon respectively, whose family seats were historically Cassiobury House and The Grove.
Of the members of the Capell family interred at Vicarage Road the most notable is the 6th Earl of Essex, Arthur Algernon Capell. Among other interests he was a keen croquet player, inventing a variation of the game called Cassiobury Croquet; he had special sets manufactured for the game and sold them to his profit. He was essentially the last Earl to manage the whole of the historic Cassiobury estate, as his successor George Devereux de Vere Capell oversaw the beginning of its end as it was parcelled up and sold off.
The other memorials are to his wives, their sons and their wives, and his extended family. At the instruction of the 6th Earl his memorial is extremely plain in design.
There are four memorials to the Villiers in Vicarage Road: George William Frederick, 4th Earl of Clarendon, Katherine his wife, his 3rd son George Patrick, and Caroline Elizabeth, Countess of Clarendon and the wife of his son the 5th Earl of Essex. The 4th Earl had a relatively illustrious career as a politician and international diplomat, holding posts in both Spain and Ireland.
Watford Football Club - The cemetery sits close to Watford Football Club and is now home to some significant past players. Most notable is John Goodall, the first manager who joined at Watford FC in 1903 as a player-manager. Previous to this he had played professionally for Preston North End, Derby County, New Brighton Tower and Glossop North End, achieving fourteen England caps during that time, two as captain. He left the club in 1910 heading to the continent to coach for a couple of years, before eventually returning to Watford where he remained until his death in 1942. He was laid in an unmarked grave in Vicarage Road Cemetery, alongside the graves of another England captain Arthur Grimsdell and the founder of the club Henry Grover, until 2018 when a headstone and memorial was erected in his honour.
Also interred in the cemetery is Edward Rivers Ray, better known as Ted Ray, a professional British golfer who, amongst the many accolades of his long and celebrated career, was one of the founding members of the Professional Golfers' Association, and won the U.S. Open in 1912 and The Open Championship in 1920; his 1913 appearance at the U.S. Open alongside fellow Englishman Harry Vardon and the unknown American Francis Quimet was turned into a Disney film in 2005 entitled The Greatest Game Ever Played. In 1912 he moved to Hertfordshire, becoming attached to the Oxhey Park Golf Club at Watford Heath for the rest of his career, until he died at the Peace Memorial Hospital in Watford in 1943.
The Cemetery also features a number of graves of servicemen killed during the two World Wars and the re-interred remains of those buried in the former graveyard of Beechen Grove Baptist Church.
An assessment of the heritage significance for Vicarage Road is currently being developed.
Biodiversity at Vicarage Road Cemetery - The key habitat at Vicarage Road cemetery includes:
Standard trees include lime, hornbeam and yew as well as ornamental trees such as Indian bean, copper beech, and laburnum. This range of tree varieties gives the cemetery an arboretum character.
Some of the trees are of considerable size and probably are the oldest ones in the cemetery, these provide important nesting areas for birds during the nesting season.
The grassland across the site is primarily linear strips adjacent to pathways, with more open areas found where memorial stones are less frequent in the western half of the site. All grassland is amenity mown and kept short.
Hedgerows vary in habitat value from largely single-species laurel to species-rich along the southern boundary with the gardens along Souldern Street. This hedgerow contains at least 7 species: holly, yew, pyracantha, guelder rose, elder, bramble, dog rose, although it varies in density.
Species recorded at Vicarage Road Cemetery in September included blackbird, jay, magpie, jackdaw, goldfinch, robin, great tit and squirrel.