Meldreth Funeral Bier

The Meldreth Funeral Bier was a specially constructed, hand drawn cart that was used to transport coffins between Meldreth Church and the Fenny Lane Cemetery.  It is believed that it was made by the Hale Brothers in their blacksmith’s shop in North End, Meldreth.  We don’t know the exact date of manufacture but it probably coincides with the opening of the cemetery in Fenny Lane in 1922.

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 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 the cemetery until relatively recently but it has since been moved elsewhere in the village for safekeeping.

Sadly the condition of the bier has deteriorated over the years and it now needs renovation as well as a permanent home.  It would be sad to see it broken up or moved outside the village.  If you know of anyone who would be interested in restoring it or can give it a safe home please get in touch with us.

Also, if you have memories of its use, or especially if you have any photographs of it in use, we would love to hear from you.  Please add a comment below if you are able to help in any way.

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)

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