Tucked away on a hillside behind Barnet General Hospital is Bells Hill Burial Ground. It is in fact a Church of England churchyard, though separated from its church by a road. As in so many churchyards, the memorials are not spectacular, but it's a pleasant enough spot.
Barnes Common Cemetery is an absolute tragedy. Opened in 1854, it survived happily until 1966, when Richmond Borough Council bought it from the Church with the intention of turning it into a lawn cemetery. If they had stuck with this execrable plan, things would have been bad enough: their first move, however, was to demolish the lodge and chapel, and to remove railings and gates, leaving the place open for vandals to complete what the Council had begun.
Today, it's a wasted sort of place: a few broken headstones survive, but most of the ground is overgrown and seems to be used mainly for drinking and sex. In 1971, a local councillor was heard to say that "I've seen burial grounds at Flanders marched over by scores of troops, but even they didn''t look as bad as Barnes Cemetery." That, thirty-five years later, no effort has been made to improve things is a complete disgrace.
4th November 2005: I have contacted Richmond's cemetery office to ask about their plans for the future of the site: if I get any reponse, it will be posted here.
7th November 2005: A Monday morning response from Richmond! Barnes Common Cemetery is no longer in the keeping of the cemetery office; it is now looked after by the parks department. My email has been passed along, and it is trusted that I will get a full response from them.
Updated 2011: I never got a response from the Parks Department.