Research at Arnos Vale Cemetery

As with the previous Know Your Bristol events, the memories shared at Know Your Arnos Vale not only contributed to the Know Your Place archives but have also been a valuable resource for those carrying out research into the history of Arnos Vale.
The numbers of visitors to the event, were a testament to the level of interest the local community has in the history of Arnos Vale and recording and keeping it alive for future generations. A day like Know Your Arnos Vale enables the Cemetery Trust to make contact with both regular and first time visitors and acts as a fantastic starting point, laying the foundations for ongoing collection of memories and histories of the site.
Felicia Smith from the Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust and Lindsay Keniston, PhD researcher for the Trust discuss their thoughts of the day and the ongoing plans to gather stories of Arnos Vale’s history.


Arnos Vale Cemetery

How did you find the day and how did it meet with your expectations?

Lindsay: I really enjoyed the day and was surprised at how many people came. It generated a lot of interest and will hopefully get people thinking more about Arnos Vale Cemetery.

Felicia: Arnos Vale is regularly visited by individuals with an historic or personal association with the site, including a family visiting on the event day for a scattering of ashes in one of the Gardens of Rest. From the event we made contact with local users of the site and first-time visitors and believe all went away with a positive experience of the day.

How will the memories and objects contributed influence your research and the history of Arnos Vale?

Lindsay: Some of the information gathered is making me consider what the cemetery may have looked like had different aesthetic choices been made about it and has made me change the way that I have been looking at the cemetery.


Looking at historical photos of the Cemetery

Were there any stories you particularly enjoyed?

Lindsay: Everyone had something interesting to say and contribute, from a Bristolian family coming in with their entire family tree laid out to personal memories of growing up close to the cemetery.

Final thoughts of the day?

Lindsay: I thought this was a fantastic opportunity to find out more about the cemetery and a great start in jogging people’s memories and getting them to have a think about their pasts and their personal interactions with Arnos Vale. I also hope that this is just the first of a series of events like this for the cemetery. Hopefully it will get people thinking about what may be hidden away in a draw or attic that could be so integral to compiling the history of the cemetery.

Felicia: We hope to build on the outcomes of this successful event in future community history projects at Arnos Vale Cemetery, so the information leaflets distributed to visitors at this event and encouraging them to contribute their memories has laid the foundations for this future work.

What are your memories of Arnos Vale? Did you play here as a child? Or grow up next door in Totterdown or Brislington? Have you ever attended a funeral here? Have you researched an ancestral family grave? Did you sign the petition to Save the Cemetery of march as part of the ‘Arnos Army’? What ever your link to Arnos Vale, we would love to hear from you! Get in touch with your name, contact details and memory of Arnos Vale by email:, phone: 0117 971 9117 or via Facebook Arnos Vale Cemetery.