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Leicester, Massachusetts

Spider Gates Cemetery

The pleasant woodland cemetery that has inspired more than its fair share of wild legends. 

Friends Cemetery is a small private Quaker cemetery in an idyllic, secluded woodland at the south end of the Kettle Brook Reservoir area of Worcester/Leicester. Dubbed Spider Gates Cemetery due to a set of low, black, wrought-iron gates that some think look like spiders/spider webs but are actually an Art Deco representation of sun rays, Friends Cemetery has garnered more than the usual tales of ghosts that most other cemeteries have.

The stories that circulate around Friends Cemetery are extreme, including the fact that the gates are one of a series of portals to hell, that Satanic rites are regularly held within its stone walls, and that someone committed suicide in a tree near its gates.

In reality, the wilderness cemetery is small, ordinary, and well kept. Its few sparse groups of headstones are set neat, clean, and even in the ground. Some of them date back to the 1700s, but are so well-tended that they seem newer. A set of four granite posts delineate the site of an old meeting house. The cemetery is owned and actively used by a Quaker group known as the Worcester Friends Meeting. According to the group’s website and a sign posted at the cemetery itself, Friends Cemetery is open to the public.

It’s located at the end of an unmarked dirt path that some maps designate Earle Street, one of the surnames on the tombstones in the cemetery. Earle Street is off Manville Street, and can be recognized by a yellow metal gate that bars vehicular access. The cemetery is less than a third of a mile up the path. “No Trespassing” signs line the surrounding forest, which is a watershed property of the city of Worcester. Adapted with Permission from: The New England Grimpendium by J.W. Ocker

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JWOcker
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