The cemetery in Bedford inspiring authors and artists

Marisa Straccia
Marisa Straccia, from Bedford, has grown up visiting Foster Hill Road Cemetery over the years

A cemetery that has become an unlikely inspiration for artists and writers is the subject of a new book.

Foster Hill Road Cemetery in Bedford is the burial place of a suffragette, a religious leader and a Polish freedom-fighter, among other names.

Bedford's Victorian Cemetery goes into detail about a number of famous people who are buried at the site.

Bestselling author Ruth Hogan is one of those inspired by it, having featured it in The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes.

Adrian Bean, who complied the book, said: "It's not an eerie place, it's a beautiful place with lots of trees, a lovely landscape, a lot of memories and a place that you can see for miles.

"It's the last resting place for generations of people who laughed, played games with their children, dreamt dreams, and mostly tried to make their world a better place."

Foster Hill Cemetery by Marisa Straccia
Marisa Straccia painted the entrance to the cemetery, which features its foliage and trees which she loves

Some of the people buried in the cemetery are suffragette activist Ellen Oliver, Mabel Barltrop, who believed she was a prophet, and Danuta Gruszczynska-Alasinska, who served in the underground Polish army during the Nazi occupation in World War Two.

Others include 32 soldiers of a Scottish Highland unit, Lady Eve, the aunt of World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing, and brewer Charles Wells.

Author Ms Hogan said: "I love the cemetery because it's a sanctuary, not just for the amazing wildlife that live there but also from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Ruth Hogan with her dog in Bedford cemetery
Ruth Hogan said: "For me it's a place to think in peace and quiet whilst walking my dogs"

"I find inspiration in the cemetery because it is a place full of stories.

"On every headstone an entire life and death is summarised in just a few words, leaving plenty to the imagination.

"The cemetery is also a brilliant place for me to find names for my characters."

Artist Marisa Straccia has created illustrations for the book.

She grew up close to the site and used to walk past it to visit Bedford Park next door.

"My artwork is inspired by a lot of folk stories and folk song and having that link to ordinary people through the years," she said.

Two people standing by a gravestone
Friends of Foster Hill Cemetery carry out tours and have been researching who is buried there

It was also a place when she was a teenager that she went for solace with her friends after a breakup with a boyfriend.

"I'm grateful to whoever was buried to listening to my woes, and now it's my chance to say 'thank you' to them as now we can listen to their stories."

Ms Straccia said of the 16 paintings she created for the book, her favourite was of Mabel Barltrop, who created the Panacea Society in the town in 1919. She believed Jesus would return to Bedford.

"I liked the idea of showing the glamourous version of her. It's a glamourous picture of Mabel in her prime, else how would she have had so many followers?"

Mabel Barltrop
Mabel Barltrop died in 1934 and was laid to rest at the cemetery

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