Category Archives: London Cemeteries

The Rules, Orders and Regulations of the London Cemetery Company

Amongst the random ephemera I've picked up on eBay is this 1902 booklet of the Rules, Orders and Regulations of the London Cemetery Company, relating to their two cemeteries at Highgate and Nunhead. You can download a PDF of the complete booklet here.

I'm devastated to see that

All ... cameras ... must be left with the Gatekeeper during the time that the owners thereof remain in the Cemetery.

We also see the price changes over the first sixty years of Highgate's opening: in 1842, interment in a common grave was £1/5/- (one pound, five shillings); in 1902, £1/10/-. Ground for a grave 6 foot 6 by 2 foot 6 was £3/3/- in 1842; by 1902, it's £3/8/-. 5 shillings seems a very small increase, but in fact, it's not: according to the Bank of England, inflation over that period averaged -0.1% per annum: prices fell. So the expensive burials are getting even more expensive.

Posted in 20th Century London Cemeteries | 1 Comment

Streatham Cemetery

Streatham is one of the nicer cemeteries in this corner of London: small, but nicely set out with curving paths, and a pair of chapels with beautiful porches, separated from each other by a couple of hundred yards. Opened in 1892, it's now mostly closed to new burials, though some interments in existing graves do still happen: two last week, but none this, I'm told.

The source of my information on burials is the excellent Barry, employee of Wandsworth Council, who shares with Jean Pateman the dubious honour of being the only cemetery personnel who've trying to stop me taking photos. Assured that I wasn't taking pictures of new graves (well, there aren't any) or inscriptions newer than 100 years or actual mourners, he kindly let me carry on. He also informed me about Streatham's tragedy: the schoolchild who during one night decapitated a number of the anthropomorphic statues in the cemetery. She was caught - apparently - with a store of angel heads beneath her bed, but was too young to be prosecuted.

Visiting: Earlsfield rail station or Tooting tube, and then buses 44, 77 or 270, which all stop outside the cemetery. Probably try to avoid Wandsworth Council staff, but there were absolutely no mourners there when I visited; I'm told there are rarely many.

Posted in 19th Century 20th Century London Cemeteries | 22 Comments

Wandsworth Cemetery

Wandsworth Cemetery is crammed into a wedge-shaped space between a residential street and the railway. Opened in 1878, it was extended in 1898, and further room for new burials was created in the 1980s by banking up earth along the western edge beside the railway. Nevertheless, Wandsworth is now nearly full.

It's a beautifully-maintained cemetery, with plenty of healthy trees, and the original buildings: a pair of Gothic chapels (only one is still in use), another building now in private ownership, and the brick-built lodge. There are, it must be said, not so many interesting monuments, though a few stand out: Emma Cook's granite edifice and Jurgan and Emily Pfeiffer's arched gable are both to be found to the north of the chapels.

Earlsfield station is just around the corner (train down from Clapham Junction). Has toilets! A few livings about but no one batted an eyelid at photography.

Posted in 19th Century 20th Century 21st Century London Cemeteries | 5 Comments

The West London Cemetery Chapel

Brompton Cemetery Chapel

Brompton Cemetery Chapel

A beautiful illustration from The Pictorial Times in 1847, of the chapel in the West London Cemetery. The cemetery's better known today as Brompton. The picture is accompanied by a wonderful article about the miasmic theory of disease and how the new, hygienic cemetery will prevent bad air infecting the living. I'm missing the first part of the article, so as soon as I've been to Colindale to get it, I'll post the whole thing.

Posted in 19th Century London Cemeteries | Leave a comment

Kensal Green opens for burials

From The Times, 1st February 1833

General Cemetery Company, Kensall-Green, Harrow Road. The Directors hereby inform the public, that the cemetery is now ready for interments. The ground has been surrounded by a lofty wall and duly consecrated by the Lord Bishop of London. A spacious catacomb has been constructed, with accomodation in separate chambers for families, or a depository for an individual as may be required, and mausoleums, vaults or common graves may be treated for at the office, on Great Russell street. A regular register will be kept, by which coffins deposited in the catacombs may be at any time visited or inspected by relatives of the deceased and the Directors offer the fullest security against exhumation or any other disturbance of the solemnity of the grave. The terms for the sale of the catacombs, as well as the vaults and graves will be found on enquiry to be considerably below the prices usually charged. All communications to be made at the office, 95 Great Russell street, Bloomsbury to Mr Bowman, the Clerk of the Company, who will give every information that may be required.
C B BOWMAN, Clerk of the Company, 95 Great Russell street, Bloomsbury

I can't help thinking there's mixed messaging here. It's secure and you can have your own chamber in the catacombs... but it's also cheap. If I'd been selling it, I'd've made it expensive, and exclusive, at least at launch: I wouldn't have mentioned common graves in that copy at all.

Posted in 19th Century London Cemeteries Magnificent Seven | Leave a comment