In the 17th Century Liverpool was growing fast and there was much new building work going on, a bit like today I suppose. To meet the need for stone there were several local quarries surrounding the town. One of them was next to a natural hill known locally as Mount Zion, later renamed St James Mount. Sandstone was quarried from there over the next few hundred years, going to great building projects such as the docks and the town hall. In 1771 the mayor order a public space to be created by the quarry so paths and slopes down were created. By the year 1825 the useful stone from the quarry had been exhausted and the corporation raised nearly £20,000 by public subscription and employed the young architect John Foster (1786 - 1846) to design and lay out a cemetery along the same lines of the Pere-la-Chaise, Paris. And so St james cemetery was created in the quarry.
On the high ground to the North-West, on the site of an old windmill, he built the Oratory in 1827 in the style of ancient Greece as a result of his travels to that region. The cemetery was opened in 1829 and the last burial was in 1936, after some 57,774 souls had been interred in the graves and catacombs there. During the 1960s the cemetery was somewhat restored from its derilict state, the graves clearerd to make a new public space. The Oratory was restored and now sits on its small acropolis dwarfed by the Anglican Cathedral built next to it on St James Mount.
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