St. Jørgen’s cemetery

St. Jørgen’s Hospital had its own cemetery, at least in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was situated at Hospitalsengen, just above the church, on the other side of the street Kong Oscars gate. The cemetery is shown on a map from the 18th century but was probably situated in the same location before that time. Evidence suggests that the hospital had its own cemetery as early as 1567. Absalon Pedersson Beyer, a clergyman at the cathedral, recounts in his diary that he performed a funeral at ‘Spital’s Cemetery’, the hospital’s cemetery. 

Hilbrandt Meyer wrote that when St. Jacob’s cemetery was established in 1629, it was situated 300 steps south of the hospital cemetery. This roughly corresponds with the cemetery’s known location from the 18th and 19th centuries. The history of this cemetery may even date back to the hospital’s origins. In any case, it is reasonable to assume that, since its foundation, the hospital’s residents would have been buried on the area of land that the hospital owned.

The cemetery was in use until the late 19th century. Pictures from that time show that the cemetery was surrounded by a wall. There seems to be a period when it was turned into a park with garden paths, and it looks like it was later used to grow crops. The land was sold at the end of the 1890s and parts of the site were developed into the apartment building that is now Kong Oscars gate 60. 

We know that more recent residents of St. Jørgen’s Hospital and Årstad parish used separate areas of St. Jacob’s cemetery and probably also Assistentkirkegården cemetery. Church records show that St. Jørgen’s residents were later buried at the large new cemeteries at Møllendal and Solheim. There are also examples of residents, at the request of their families, being buried in the places from where they came.

Section of Handbergs map of Bergen from 1864. Bergen City Archives.
Detail of Handberg’s map of Bergen from 1864 showing St. Jørgen’s on one side of Kong Oscars gate and the hospital’s pasture on the other. The hospital’s cemetery can be seen right above the church, between St. Jørgen’s and Danckert Krohns foundation.
Bergen City Archives.
The hospital pasture and cemetery. Cropped photo: Knud Knudsen. University of Bergen Library.
In this photograph taken at some point between 1875 and 1882, it appears that the old cemetery has acquired walking paths.
Photo: Knud Knudsen. Detail. The University of Bergen Library.
The hospital pasture and cemetery. Cropped photo: Knud Knudsen. University of Bergen Library.
The year this photograph was taken is unknown, but it appears that the rectangle where the cemetery once was is being used for cultivation. St. Jacob’s cemetery can also be seen at the other end of the hospital’s pastures.
Photo: Knud Knudsen. Detail. The University of Bergen Library.
St. Jacob's cemetery. Photo: Knud Knudsen. University of Bergen Library.
St. Jacob’s cemetery was expanded to the north several times to provide burial plots for Åstad parish, the hospital and Domkirken parish. At the end of the 19th century, the site was very overgrown.
Photo: Knud Knudsen. The University of Bergen Library.
Map from 1913. From: http://urbgis.uib.no/
Around 1897, the old cemetery for the hospital stopped being used and the plot was soon developed. This map from 1913 includes the new apartment buildings. Note also that traces of the expansion of St. Jacob’s cemetery can be discerned from the boundaries and what appears to be a drawn-in fence or brick wall.
Historical map from urbgis.uib.no. The University of Bergen.
Northern part of St. Jacobs cemetery. Photo: Bergen City Archives.
As time progressed, the part of St. Jacob’s cemetery that had been used for the parishes belonging to the St. Jørgen’s Church and the cathedral became less overgrown and acquired more lawn. When the hospital’s pasture Hospitalsengen was developed in around 1900, the cemetery had the apartment complex as its closest neighbour.
Photo: Bergen City Archives.
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