The Environment at Hyde Park Cemetery

When Hyde Park Cemetery opened in 1856 it lay some distance outside the built-up area of 19th-century Doncaster.  However, the town has expanded to such an extent during the intervening years that the cemetery is now surrounded by the town’s urban sprawl. Because of this, Hyde Park Cemetery has acquired a real significance as a haven for wildlife and as a valuable green space amongst the residential, commercial and industrial development of southern Doncaster.

The Friends’ continue to develop Hyde Park Cemetery’s role in enhancing the local environment.  A wildlife area has been established in part of Section C (an area historically occupied by greenhouses). Also, a memorial wildflower meadow has been created in the centre of Section H & I, where approximately 800 unmarked public graves are located. The meadow commemorates not just the people who were buried in those particular public graves, but all other public grave occupants throughout the cemetery.

An environmental survey was undertaken in June 2004 and the following extracts are taken from that survey.


2004 Environmental Survey Findings

The cemetery is predominantly grassland, managed on a regular but not too intense mowing regime.  It is species-rich, reflecting the unimproved pasture which was enclosed to create the cemetery in Victorian times.  Herb-rich meadow is present in a good portion of the cemetery.

The western end and peripheral grassland to the south and east.

They are characterised by the dominance of:

  • Red fescue
  • Meadow foxtail
  • Yorkshire Fog
  • Sweet vernal grass


  • Black medick
  • Common mouse-ear
  • Common sorrel
  • Ribwort plantain

In the south of the cemetery there is a rudimentary woodland flora developing in the shade of the large trees.


  • Horse chestnut
  • Large-leaved Lime


  • Holly
  • Elder


Woodland edge habitat includes

  • Bluebells
  • Male Fern
  • Hairy Willowherb
  • Elder
  • Wild Cherry
  • Hawthorn
  • Ash
  • Sycamore
  • Ivy

The large trees that have been planted around the perimeter are notable in their own right and as potential bat roosts and nesting opportunities for birds of prey, corvids, and wood pigeons.

The non-native large-leaved lime and horse chestnut trees are ecologically significant in this urban context.  The Manchester poplars have been shown to be genetically identical to the rare native black poplar and are worthy of conservation, as are the cemetery’s elms.  A Wych elm is present and thriving.  It is possible that English Elms are re-growing from suckers.  These presently appear moribund; they should be conserved if possible. [Editor’s Note: Sadly, the black poplars became life-expired and unsafe by about 2010 and were finally taken down in March 2014. The Wych elm also appears to be moribund and may need to be felled].

To the north of the site a more recently planted thicket of mainly native broad-leaves has been established and should be retained.

There are a number of significant large trees, noticably silver birch and large holly trees. These, along with large growths of Ivy over gravestones and sarcophagi, should be retained.

No animal survey was undertaken but evidence of rabbit, common bird species and bats, along with a pair of kestrels have been noted.


On the hill

Non-native shrub species of little ecological value


On eastern side

Line of mature lime and horse chestnut trees with the beginnings of a woodland edge community beneath with bluebell and holly regeneration.  These large trees may be used as bat roosts.


On southern side

Mature lime and horse chestnut trees with abundant shrubs providing good nesting habitat.  Shade tolerant ground flora present.  Becoming a woodland edge habitat with bluebell, male fern, hairy willowherb, elder, ash, wild cherry, hawthorn, and young sycamore.  Thick ivy on the wall provides good nesting habitat and winter feed.  Himalayan balsam present.  Nettle patches and rank grass are also present along with hogweed and bramble.  This eutrophication is possibly due to tipping of grass clippings/flowers.  Elm thicket present due to suckering.


Southern part of west wall.

Privet shrubbery with ground flora dominated with false oat grass, cow parsley, garlic mustard and common cleaver


Burial space known as H and I

Flora indicates wet soils [Editor’s Note: This area is where the memorial meadow has been planted. A mixture of perennial and annual wildflowers was sown in spring 2015].


North wall just behind chapels

Drier, patchier flora with mallow and shining cranesbill


North wall as you go up the slope

Shrubbery with yew, silver birch, black poplar, grey alder, hazel, pedunculate oak, lime, hawthorn, rowan and bramble


Western wall and northern wall above the slope

Western boundary with mature Manchester poplar trees {Editor’s Note: See earlier note about these trees being felled in 2014].


Behind the lodge

London plane [Editor’s Note: Subsequently thought to be Oriental plane].


Meadow species list:


Herb rich meadow 1

(Western side)

Differs as dominance of sheep’s sorrel gives a reddish hue to the whole

  • Common sorrel
  • Sheep’s sorrel
  • Meadow foxtail
  • Yarrow
  • Ribwort plantain
  • Common mouse-ear
  • Speedwell
  • Ragwort
  • Cocksfoot
  • Birdsfoot trefoil

Herb rich meadow 2

(Eastern side)

  • Red fescue
  • Ribwort plantain
  • Black medick
  • Common mouse-ear
  • White clover
  • Daisy
  • Sedges
  • Ragwort
  • Meadow foxtail
  • Common sorrel
  • Coltsfoot
  • Hawkweeds
  • Creeping buttercup
  • Meadow buttercup
  • Creeping thistle
  • Sweet vernal grass
  • Sheep’s sorrel