Bendigo cemetery chapel wins $200,000 for renovation into wedding, funeral venue

Some people would not be caught dead in a graveyard on their wedding day.

But it's a choice couples will be able to make once renovations to a 140-year-old chapel inside Bendigo cemetery are finished.

Remembrance Parks Central Victoria was today awarded a $200,000 grant from the Victorian government to give the historic building a much-needed face lift.

Largely closed for the past two decades, the mortuary chapel will reopen for funerals, music recitals and even weddings. 

While RPCV spokeswoman Joanne Trickey said the setting could turn off some couples, she expected there would be no shortage of lovebirds wanting to say ‘I do’ inside the chapel’s historic walls. 

“It’s a cycle of life kind of thing,” Ms Trickey said. 

The Gothic revival church, designed by surveyor George Fletcher, was built with Harcourt granite in 1873 inside what was then called Sandhurst Cemetery.

Unlike many cemeteries, which have separate chapels for people of different denominations, the dead of all religious creeds were farewelled in the Bendigo building. 

"If you look through our cemetery, we have everyone from everywhere," Ms Trickey said. 

Underpinning, roof patching and replacing worn or stolen architectural features were among the works that would soon be carried out. 

Birds that have taken up residence in the chocolate-brown gables of the chapel will also need to find new homes. 

"We have to look after assets of cultural value, like these, into perpetuity,” Ms Trickey said. 

The mortuary chapel was not the only Bendigo building awarded funds from the Living Heritage grants program. The 1896 Trades Hall will also get $25,000 for urgent works. 

Bendigo East MP Jacinta Allan said the money would prevent further deterioration in years to come, while Bendigo West representative Maree Edwards believed protecting the buildings was important to the local community.

“It’s a reminder of our significant history and contributes to our sense of identity,” Ms Edwards said.