Plea over burial site

sp91642 Paxton Graves at Tapton Golf Course.
sp91642 Paxton Graves at Tapton Golf Course.

BEHIND a gate, hidden in tranquil woodland, lies the final resting place of one of Chesterfield’s most celebrated families.

Only the sound of church bells, distant trains and the clunk of an odd golf ball can be heard at the little-known Markham burial ground in Tapton Golf Course.

Eight Markham family members are buried here – including Rosa Paxton, wife of industrialist Charles Markham and daughter of architect Sir Joseph Paxton.

But the secluded consecrated land is in need of work, with subsidence, overgrown grave stones and its absentia marker or sign almost lost in the trees.

Now the Markham family and Newbold expert Tony Hallam are calling for restoration in time for April 20 2012, which will mark 100 years since Rosa became the first person to be buried there.

“What is going to happen without work is the graves are all going to get overgrown in a few years”, said Mr Hallam. “A piece of history would disappear unless something is done.

“It’s so important for the town – people should know about it and be able to pay their respects.”

Polymath philanthropist Charles Markham gave his former family home Tapton House, and grounds, to the borough. Responsility for maintaining the burial site, presided over by a cavalry cross, was eventually passed to Chesterfield Borough Council.

Initial plans have been drawn up, said the authority, with approval from the family and council needed so work can begin. Toby Markham – Rosa’s great-great nephew – said the plans were still under review but a step forward to see the site restored and made more accessible. He said: “The Markham family has a very strong link with Chesterfield, our history and fortunes are interwined. We would like more people to see the ground, raise awareness of the family and offer information where visitors can learn more about people like Rosa and what they did.

“I understand things like this from the public purse are probably a long way from priority, what we’re saying is we’re happy to put some money in as well.”