The mortuary chapel forms the focal point of Dean Road cemetery. It is part of an ensemble comprising the cemetery layout, mortuary chapel, mortuary and entrance lodges all designed in 1856 by Pritchett & Sons of Darlington & York who were leading exponents of the design of cemetery buildings. The practice Pritchett & Sons was involved with cemeteries at Sudbury, Darlington, St Andrews, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Saffron Walden, Boston, Tottenham, Mansfield, Colne, Whitby, and Great Driffield as well as Scarborough.
The building is a heavy Victorian Gothic design, in random rock faced stone blocks probably from West Yorkshire with ashlar dressing to buttresses, mullions etc. The roof is slate cut in ‘fishtails’ giving a very distinctive appearance.
The building is cruciform in plan, divided into an Anglican part to the east and a nonconformist (including RC) part to the west, separated by a central hearse entrance having double doors at each side. Originally the chapel had a spire, above the hearse entrance, but this was demolished in April 1972 leaving only the base giving the structure a rather ponderous feel. Internally, the hearse entrance has a ribbed vaulted stone ceiling.
The Anglican chapel has its long axis east-west, i.e. so that liturgical east is true east (or very nearly) whilst the nonconformist chapel has its long axis north-south so that liturgical east is at the north. This arrangement may be due to a controversy in 1856 whereby some Anglicans wanted their own separate burial ground with its own mortuary chapel. The compromise solution was, as the Burial Act allowed, dedicating the eastern half of the cemetery to the Anglicans and the western half to the other denominations. The centrally located mortuary chapel reflects this distinction.
Use of the chapel for funeral services was discontinued on Monday 5th October 1964.