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Chapel Cemetery Municipal Heritage Site

Holyrood, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1K, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2008/05/13

Photo of Chapel Cemetery, Holyrood, NL, 2007/08/28; L Maynard, HFNL, 2008
Chapel Cemetery, Holyrood, NL, 2007
Photo of headstone with marble inlay, Chapel Cemetery, Holyrood, NL, 2007/08/28; L Maynard, HFNL 2008
Headstone, Chapel Cemetery, Holyrood, NL, 2007
Photo showing headstones, Chapel Cemetery, Holyrood, NL, 2007/08/28; L Maynard, HFNL, 2008
Chapel Cemetery, Holyrood, NL, 2007

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/10/01

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Chapel Cemetery is located on a small, grassy embankment with several mature trees, eight re-erected headstones, and at least one prostrate headstone. It is located off Back Road on the north side of the harbour in Holyrood, Newfoundland and Labrador. The cemetery area is identified in the Holyrood Heritage Society’s Chapel Cemetery Restoration Master Plan dated March, 2005. This area has been assigned Borden Number CiAg-03 and site name Holyrood Cemetery Site by the Provincial Archaeology Office, and mapped in Figure 1 of the PAO’s site report. The designated area is bounded by Back Road on the east and south sides, and by fencing on the north and west sides, along the boundary of private property, and the designation includes the mature apple tree and headstones within that area.

Heritage Value

The Chapel Cemetery has historic and spiritual value as the oldest known consecrated cemetery associated with the Roman Catholic faith in Holyrood, a community settled primarily by Irish immigrants in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The cemetery is located on a grassy embankment near the shoreline, with several mature spruce trees and a large non-native apple tree, and is marked by an erect wooden cross. This area is the former grounds of a wooden chapel that was in use from about 1845 to 1879, during which time Holyrood was a mission of Harbour Main Roman Catholic Parish.

The Chapel Cemetery appears to have been in use only until about 1860. The rate at which the cemetery reached capacity in a small community has been tentatively attributed to outbreaks of smallpox, typhus fever and/or cholera which occurred in the region during that period.

The headstones at the cemetery have historic value as artifacts on the landscape, and because they contain genealogical type information. While there are undoubtedly many now unmarked graves in the Chapel Cemetery, nine sizable carved headstones remain, eight of which are legible and record dates of deaths between 1841 and 1857. Three of the headstones identify the deceased as Irish immigrants.

The carved headstones at the Chapel Cemetery range in height from approximately one to two metres, and are tablet forms in marble or sandstone, in keeping with their age. One of the gravemarkers is of a style fairly uncommon in Newfoundland, being sandstone inlaid with a white marble medallion of a Christian motif known as the Emblems of the Passion. Two of the marble headstones bear the mark of J. Hay, a stonecarver working in St. John’s around the mid-nineteenth century.

The Chapel Cemetery has aesthetic value owing to its location and because its combined elements – terrain, flora, and headstones – evoke the late nineteenth century period when the mission chapel stood at the site and the cemetery was in use.

Source: Town of Holyrood town council meeting minutes of 2008/05/13

Character-Defining Elements

Those landscape elements related to the cemetery's function and age:

-grassy topography;
-mature spruce and apple trees;
-and style and materials of inscribed, carved nineteenth century headstones.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

NL Municipality

Recognition Statute

Municipalities Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1841/01/01 to 1857/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions

Function - Category and Type


Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure


Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Town of Holyrood
P.O. Box 100
Holyrood, NL A0A 2R0

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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