Friday, 27 November 2020

View ashes at chapel

PLANS have been submitted to transform the unused chapel at Fair Mile Cemetary in Henley into an area to display ashes.

The £125,000 project will create a columbarium with 265 glass-covered niches for storing funeral urns.

Residents will then be able to rent a niche and the ashes would remain on display depending on the amount of rent paid.

The grade II listed building, which was a Gothic non-conformist chapel, is owned by the town council which wants to bring it back into use along with an Anglican chapel also at the cemetery.

It is looking to get financial support for the project from the Oxfordshire LEADER funding programme, which is part of the Rural Development Programme for England.

In a statement, the town council said: “The works include the installation of ‘bookcase’-style structures with niches of varying size. Associated lighting is also proposed. The works are internal only.

“The conversion of the first chapel into a columbarium will provide a sustainable use for the building. Historic England states the best way to protect an asset is to keep it occupied.”

Fair Mile Cemetery was taken over by the town council from the district council in 2009.

Three years later South Oxfordshire District council agreed to amend the covenants on the site to allow the chapel to be converted into a centre based around writer George Orwell, who lived in Henley and Shiplake.

But the project was delayed indefinitely as organiser Peter Burness-Smith was suffering from ill health.

The district council, the planning authority, will make a decision on the columbarium by October 3.

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