Meldreth Funeral Bier

The Meldreth Funeral Bier is a specially constructed, hand drawn cart that was used to transport coffins between Meldreth Church and the Fenny Lane Cemetery. According to the minutes of Parish Council meetings, the bier was built by Herbert Gipson from 1921-22. Its construction was ordered by the Parish Council in preparation for the opening of Fenny Lane cemetery.

The churchyard at Meldreth Holy Trinity Church was closed to new burials in February 1907 although several burials took place after that date, including that of John George Mortlock who was buried in January 1917. The first burial in the Fenny Lane cemetery was on May 27th 1922 with burials taking place at Whaddon, Shepreth and Melbourn for the period in between. It is possible that a hand drawn bier was used for these burials although I would have thought it unlikely due to the distance involved.

The bier was stored in a specially constructed shed in Fenny Lane cemetery but has now been moved elsewhere in the village for safekeeping.

Unfortunately, over the years the condition of the bier had deteriorated considerably.  However, we are delighted that in 2021 the bier was renovated by Meldreth resident John Morgan, with some assistance from John Richards, also from Meldreth.  For more information and photographs please see our page on the Renovation of the Meldreth Funeral Bier. It is our hope that the bier will be permanently homed in Holy Trinity Church.

If you have any memories of  the bier or photographs of it being used, please add a comment below or contact us as we would love to hear from you.

Comments about this page

  • Hi … have been reading your comments on restoring and have just finished a funeral bier project with my dad.  I would say to anyone interested in doing one to go for it: it’s not a quick job but there’s plenty of proud “I did that!” factor at the end.

    By stuart (11/09/2014)
  • We have a hand drawn bier in Monkton Church in Pembroke Wales. It was used to transport those poor unfortunate people who could not afford a horse and cart. It is always known as ‘The Wheels’ by the locals. We have a photograph of it in our local paper.

    By melanie phillips (16/08/2014)
  • Thank you Keith for your recent comments and advice about the Meldreth funeral bier. We really do not want to see it leave this village so we are currently investigating ways of restoring it locally. We hope somebody in this area will show some interest.

    By Joan Gane, Chairman MLHG (25/09/2011)
  • Hi there. Several years ago I restored a bier which was in a badly rusted condition with most of the paintwork missing. The restoration involved taking it apart, cleaning, rust removal, treating to prevent the rust returning then repainting to match the original. As the bier had been hand made each part had to be replaced in the same position as it was removed, even down to the nuts on the bolts. As you can imagine this is a time consuming process. The finished bier looked very smart and is now in a museum. I would hope you would not decide to break up the Meldreth bier as hinted at in your report. I could probably find a safe home for it where I live in North Lincolnshire rather than see it lost.

    By Keith Pollard (14/09/2011)
  • My village of Spaldwick, Cambridgeshire has a bier in poor condition. We would like to have it restored and wonder if you have anyone you know, who would undertake this work. We would also like it valued, if possible. It is our wish to do this bier up and put it on display and use it for its original purpose. I am a Parish Councillor and any help you can give us, would be most welcome.

    By Grahame Leach (16/06/2011)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.