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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Oakwood Cemetery in Barming to be opened up to the public

15 December 2013
by Kent Messenger reporter

Maidstone council is to pay the Department of Health a nominal £1 fee to take over responsibility for Oakwood cemetery in Barming.

Gravestones in the disused Oakwood Cemetery

Gravestones in the disused Oakwood Cemetery

The site off Oakapple Lane, which was the burial ground for Oakwood Hospital, will be renovated with the help of a £24,000 grant from the government.

The money will be used to pay for landscaping, provide benches, bins and a new gate to the site, secure the boundary wall, and control Japanese knotweed.

The plot lies next to the St Andrews Park housing development on the former Oakwood Hospital site.

The council is likely to ask the Medway Valley Countryside Partnership to manage the site with the interest of wildlife in mind. There is no intention to provide play facilities or toilets.

The council hopes that ongoing maintenance of the park will cost less than £500 a year.

The cemetery has been closed since the 1950s. Although the six-acre site is the final resting place for thousands, there are few standing headstones.

Oakwood Hospital opened in 1833, when it was called the County Mental Hospital. Over the years, it was also known as Barming Asylum, Barming Mental Hospital, and Barming Heath Lunatic Asylum.

It initially provided for 169 patients, but there were repeated additions to the buildings over the years, and at its peak the hospital had beds for 2,055 patients.

The function of the hospital was taken over in a much reduced form by the psychiatric wing of the new Maidstone Hospital in the year 2000, and the building was vacated.

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