The cemetery at Lavenham is one of the many cemeteries established in the 18th and 19th centuries, to deal with the twin problems of a full church graveyard and a rapidly expanding population. This, together with a rise in infectious diseases put even more pressure on available space. To organise this vast increase in available burial space, it was decided to make these new cemeteries a municipal responsibility rather than one for the church.
Chapels were built to provide a place for Nonconformists, and others, to hold a service prior to burial. The Burial Act of 1880 had allowed any person of any religion to have a burial ‘in a decent and orderly manner without obstruction’.
The chapel at Lavenham Cemetery was built in 1893 and more details of its early history can be found here.
Across the country, just about every cemetery has a chapel. Nowadays, in our modern secular society, the idea of the Nonconformists has vanished, so the purpose of the building has gone too. Other uses for building have had to be found, and probably, as in Lavenham, it has become a store for local groups or societies. Or, if it cannot be secured, it has been vandalised and left empty.
Now, the chapel has been renovated and has a new purpose, or rather, a series of purposes and on 16th May 2018, at Mid-day it was formally re-opened.