Edwin Patchitt’s grave in the Church Rock cemetery is perhaps one of the most important graves in the Cemetery This is because he was the man responsible for designing the Church Rock Cemetery which is located on the corner of Mansfield Road and Forest Road East.
Edwin Patchitt was well known in Victorian Nottingham and was an important public figure. He was a solicitor of note in the City.
He started life as a office boy to Messrs W & R Sculthorpe Solicitors. Mellors (1924) states that:
“As a clerk, young Patchitt was so attentive to his duties and courteous to clients, that his masters articled him and gradually the magisterial business was committed to his care, so that when he had passed his articles he remained with the firm and became one of the four guarantors of £500 each which the County Treasurer had to give the magistrates. Mr William Sculthorpe got into financial difficulties and the guarantors were called upon to pay. He lost his office, and Edwin Patchitt was appointed in his place and Sculthorpe became Clerk in his former Clerk’s office. Their positions were transposed”.
Patchitt slowly worked his way up the career ladder, becoming Registrar of the County Court, Clerk to the Inclosure Commissioners and to the High School and the Church Rock Cemetery He also eventually became Mayor of Nottingham (1858-9).
Patchitt is perhaps best known for his involvement with the Church Rock Cemetery.
It all started with the Nottingham Enclosure Act of 1845. In order to compensate for the loss of open space created by this act, the City Councils set aside over 130 acres of land for public parks and amenities.
By 1850, the population of the City had grown and along with the need for new housing came the need for other services, one of which was the provision of new burial grounds.
Plans were drawn up for a new cemetery to be built on some of the land set aside in 1845.
The new burial ground was to be called Church Cemetery and plans included catacombs cut into the natural rock and a large new church which would have rivalled anything in the City.
The land chosen for the new enterprise, described as ʻ…a bare and barren hill”, was part of a sandy ridge running roughly east-west.
Here, the ancient north-south road out of the City, now the A60 Mansfield Road, traverses the ridge before entering the old Sherwood Forest.
Known as Gallows Hill, the summit was the place of public executions until 1827.
The original site of the gallows, which were moved to the steps of the Shire Hall, was just in-front of the cemetery gates.
The cemetery, on the western side of the road, now covers more than half of the northern slope of the ridge and overlooks Forest Recreation Ground, which was developed around the same time from the land covered by the old Nottingham Race Course.
ʻThe Cemetery Company,ʼ composed of local businessmen was set up to oversee the building work and facilitate its future operation.
The clerk to the company, solicitor and future mayor of Nottingham, Edwin Patchitt, owned a vast track of land known as Patchittʼs Park, on the opposite side of the road.
Whilst the cemetery was under construction, he began to develop this land, building large ʻvillasʼ and fashionable houses for the wealthy middle class.
Money for the project began to run out and the over-ambitious plans were cut back.
The church was never built and the burial ground became known as Rock Cemetery, from the bares and stone rock into which part of it is cut.
The cemetery was still incomplete when it was taken over by the City Council and officially opened in 1856.
He later brought the Forest House. Mellors (1924) states that “the house then a small one, and grounds, and he became possessed of the land between there and the Mansfield Road. He built a new and enlarged and decorated house”.
The house later became the Nottingham Children’s Hospital.
It is said that it took him twenty years to build and alter the building In the front gallery in the entrance hall of Forest House, Patchitt had a fitting motto inscribed:
“Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought and on all the labour that I had laboured to do, and behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit and there was no profit under the sun”.
Mellors, R., 1924. Men of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. Nottingham: J & H Bell Ltd.