|Owned by||The General Cemetery Company|
|Size||29 hectares (72 acres)|
|No. of graves||65,000+|
|No. of interments||250,000|
|Website||The General Cemetery Company website|
|Find a Grave||658427|
|Official name||Kensal Green Cemetery|
|Designated||1 October 1987|
|Official name||Kensal Green Cemetery|
|Designated||1 October 1987|
Kensal Green Cemetery is a cemetery in the Kensal Green area of Queens Park in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. Inspired by Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, it was founded by the barrister George Frederick Carden. 72 acres (29 ha) of grounds, including two conservation areas, adjoining a canal. The cemetery is home to at least 33 species of bird and other wildlife. This distinctive cemetery has memorials ranging from large mausoleums housing the rich and famous to many distinctive smaller graves and includes special areas dedicated to the very young. It has three chapels and serves all faiths. It is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries in London.The cemetery opened in 1833 and comprises
The cemetery was immortalised in the lines of G. K. Chesterton's poem "The Rolling English Road" from his book The Flying Inn : "For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen; Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green."
Despite its Grecian-style buildings, the cemetery is primarily Gothic in character, due to the high number of private Gothic monuments. Due to this atmosphere, the cemetery was the chosen location of several scenes in movies, notably in Theatre of Blood .
The cemetery is listed Grade I on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.It remains in use.
The cemetery is in London's Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Its main entrance is on Harrow Road (west of where Ladbroke Grove and Chamberlayne Road meet). Its other entrance, Alma Place (the West Gate, almost opposite Greyhound Road) is also on the north side. Alma Place leads to the West London Crematorium (whose owner and operator is the same) and St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, which are in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The cemetery lies between Harrow Road and the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal to the south which has long been separated by a wall.
A set of defunct gates is set in the southern wall which adjoins the canal where barges took a proportion of earth from excavating graves and occasionally coffins carried by barge were unloaded.
George Frederick Carden had failed with an earlier attempt to establish a British equivalent to Paris's Père Lachaise Cemetery in 1825, but a new committee established in February 1830,including Andrew Spottiswoode, MP for Saltash, sculptor Robert William Sievier, banker Sir John Dean Paul, Charles Broughton Bowman (first committee secretary), and architects Thomas Willson (who had previously proposed an ambitious Metropolitan Sepulchre project) and Augustus Charles Pugin, gained more financial, political and public support to fund the "General Cemetery Company". Public meetings were held in June and July 1830 at the Freemasons' Tavern, and Carden was elected treasurer.
Paul, a partner in the London banking firm of Strahan, Paul, Paul and Bates, found and conditionally purchased the 54 acres (22 ha) of land at Kensal Green for £9,500. However, Paul and Carden were already embroiled in a dispute regarding the design of the cemetery, where Paul favoured the Grecian style and Carden the Gothic style. A succession of architects were contemplated, including Benjamin Wyatt (who declined), Charles Fowler (proposal not taken up), Francis Goodwin, Willson, and a Mr Lidell, a pupil of John Nash, before an architectural competition was launched in November 1831. This attracted 46 entrants, and in March 1832 the premium was awarded, despite some opposition, for a Gothic Revival design by Henry Edward Kendall; this decision was, however, eventually overturned.
On 11 July 1832, the Act of Parliament establishing a "General Cemetery Company for the interment of the Dead in the Neighbourhood of the Metropolis" gained Royal Assent. The Act authorised it to raise up to £45,000 in shares, buy up to 80 acres of land and build a cemetery and a Church of England chapel. Company directors appointed after the Bill received Royal Assent asserted their control and preference for a different style. One of the competition judges and a company shareholder, John William Griffith, who had previously produced working drawings for a boundary wall, ultimately designed the cemetery's two chapels and the main gatewayand 15,000 trees were supplied and planted by Hugh Ronalds from his nursery in Brentford. Founded as the General Cemetery of All Souls, Kensal Green, the cemetery was the first of the "Magnificent Seven" garden-style cemeteries in London. It was consecrated on 24 January 1833 by Charles James Blomfield, the Bishop of London, receiving its first funeral the same month.
In the early 1850s, after a series of cholera epidemics in London caused an examination of London's burial facilities, health commissioner Edwin Chadwick proposed the closure of all existing burial grounds in the vicinity of London other than the privately owned Kensal Green Cemetery, north-west of the city, which was to be nationalised and greatly enlarged to provide a single burial ground for west London. (A large tract of land on the Thames around 9 miles (14 km) south-east of London in Abbey Wood was to become a single burial ground for east London. ) The Treasury was sceptical that Chadwick's scheme would ever be financially viable, and it was widely unpopular. Although the Metropolitan Interments Act 1850 authorised the scheme, it was abandoned in 1852.
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The overall layout is on an east–west axis, with a central path leading to a raised chapel towards the west. The entrance is to the north-east and the largest monuments line the central path to the chapel.
The Church of England was allotted 39 acres and the remaining 15, clearly separated, acres were given over to Dissenters,a distinction deemed crucial at the time. Originally there was a division between the Dissenters' part of the cemetery and the Anglican section. This took the form of a "sunk fence" from the canal to the gate piers on the path. There were also decorative iron gates. The small area designated for non-Anglican burials is approximately oval in shape and was formerly made prominent by a wider central axis path that terminated with the neo-classical chapel with curved colonnades. The Anglican Chapel dominates the western section of the cemetery, being raised on a terrace beneath that is an extensive catacomb; there is a hydraulic catafalque for lowering coffins into the catacomb.
It is still in operation today; burials and cremations take place daily, although cremations are now more common than interments. The cemetery is still run by the General Cemetery Company under its original Act of Parliament. This mandates that bodies there may not be exhumed and cremated or the land sold for development. Once the cemetery has exhausted all its interment space and can no longer function as a cemetery, the mandate requires that it shall remain a memorial park. The General Cemetery Company constructed and runs the West London Crematorium within the grounds of the cemetery.
While borrowing from the ideals established at Père Lachaise some years before,Kensal Green Cemetery contributed to the design and management basis for many cemetery projects throughout the British Empire of the time. In Australia, for example, the Necropolis at Rookwood (1868) and Waverley Cemetery (1877), both in Sydney, are noted for their use of the "gardenesque" landscape qualities and importantly self-sustaining management structures championed by the General Cemetery Company.
The cemetery is the burial site of approximately 250,000 individuals in over 65,000 graves,including upwards of 500 members of the British nobility and 970 people listed in the Dictionary of National Biography . Many monuments, particularly the larger ones, lean precariously as they have settled over time on the underlying London clay.
Many buildings and structures within Kensal Green are listed.
The Anglican Chapel is listed Grade I,while the Dissenters' Chapel, Kensal Green is listed Grade II* and the colonnade/catacomb and perimeter walls and railings are listed Grade II. Of the many tombs, memorials and mausoleums, eight are listed Grade II*, while The Reformers' Memorial is listed Grade II. The Tomb of Charles Spencer Ricketts is listed Grade II* and was designed by William Burges.
The Anglican Chapel is at the centre of the cemetery, and contains several tombs. The chapel was damaged during the Second World War but was restored in 1954.Under the chapel is a catacomb, one of the few in London. The catacomb is currently not maintained but can be visited as part of a guided tour. It still has a working coffin-lift or catafalque, restored by The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery in 1997.
Situated in the eastern corner of the cemetery this Greek Revival structure was for the use of all non-Anglican denominations and of non-believers. Only part of the cemetery was consecrated, and Dissenters could opt to be buried in the non-consecrated areas following a service here. The cemetery became favoured by nonconformists, free-thinkers, non-Christians and atheists, and thus this chapel became popular. The Dissenters' Chapel had become derelict and partly roofless, so in 1995 was leased to the Historic Chapels Trust who undertook £447,000 of restoration. The chapel currently serves as the office of The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery, but is also available for funeral services.
The Reformers' Memorial was erected in 1885. It was erected at the instigation of Joseph Corfield "to the memory of men and women who have generously given their time and means to improve the conditions and enlarge the happiness of all classes of society". The monument has lists of names of reformers and radicals on its north and east sides (together with further names added in 1907 by Emma Corfield). It is paired with the Robert Owen memorial, and a second instance of a non-funerary memorial in the cemetery's nonconformist section.
The memorial was amended to include Lloyd Jones to recognise his contribution.
"THIS MEMORIAL IS RAISED AS A TOKEN OF REGARD TO THE BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN WHOSE NAMES IT BEARS BY JOSEPH W. CORFIELD, AUGUST 1895."
"THE REFORMERS' MEMORIAL
ERECTED TO THE GLORY OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE GENEROUSLY GIVEN THEIR TIME AND MEANS TO IMPROVE THE CONDITIONS AND ENHANCE THE HAPPINESS OF ALL CLASSES OF SOCIETY. THEY HAVE FELT THAT A FAR HAPPIER AND MORE PROSPEROUS LIFE IS WITHIN THE REACH OF ALL MEN, AND THEY HAVE EARNESTLY SOUGHT TO REALIZE IT. THE OLD BRUTAL LAWS OF IMPRISONMENT FOR FREE PRINTING HAVE BEEN SWEPT AWAY AND THE RIGHT OF SELECTING OUR OWN LAW MAKERS HAS BEEN GAINED MAINLY BY THEIR EFFORTS. THE EXERCISE OF THESE RIGHTS WILL GIVE THE PEOPLE AN INTEREST IN THE LAWS THAT GOVERN THEM, AND WILL MAKE THEM BETTER MEN AND BETTER CITIZENS."
A great number of people are mentioned on the monument. These are, in order shown on the monument:
The entry for Robert Owen reads:
The cenotaph to Robert Owen, who was buried in Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales, is fittingly at the side of the Reformers' Memorial.
"ROBERT OWEN PHILANTHROPIST BORN MAY 14TH. 1771. DIED NOVR. 17TH. 1858."
"1879 ERECTED BY SUBSCRIPTION IN MEMORY OF ROBERT OWEN OF NEW LANARK, BORN AT NEWTOWN, N. WALES 1771. HE DIED AND WAS BURIED AT THE SAME PLACE 1858, AGED 87 YEARS. ––––––––––––– HE ORIGINATED AND ORGANIZED INFANT SCHOOLS, HE SECURED A REDUCTION OF THE HOURS OF LABOUR FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN FACTORIES. HE WAS A LIBERAL SUPPORTER OF THE EARLY EFFORTS IN FAVOUR OF NATIONAL EDUCATION AND LABOURED TO PROMOTE INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION. HE WAS ONE OF THE FOREMOST ENGLISHMEN [sic] WHO TAUGHT MEN TO ASPIRE TO A HIGHER SOCIAL STATE BY RECONCILING THE INTERESTS OF CAPITAL AND LABOUR. HE SPENT HIS LIFE AND A LARGE FORTUNE IN SEEKING TO IMPROVE HIS FELLOW MEN BY GIVING THEM EDUCATION, SELF-RELIANCE AND MORE WORTH.
"MR. OWEN'S WRITINGS ––––––––––––––––– REPORT TO THE COUNTY OF LANARK. NEW VIEWS OF SOCIETY. TWELVE LECTURES. LECTURES ON MARRIAGE. LECTURES ON A NEW STATE OF SOCIETY. THE BOOK OF THE NEW MORAL WORLD. SIX LECTURES AT MANCHESTER. MANIFESTO OF ROBERT OWEN. SELF SUPPORTING HOME COLONIES. LETTERS TO THE HUMAN RACE. REVOLUTION IN MIND AND PRACTICE. ROBERT OWEN'S JOURNAL. LIFE OF ROBERT OWEN."
The memorial is listed as grade II.
The cemetery has three catacombs for the deposit of lead-sealed, triple-shelled coffins and cremated remains. Catacomb A, beneath the North Terrace Colonnade is now sealed. Catacomb Z, beneath the Dissenters' Chapel at the eastern end of the cemetery, suffered significant bomb damage during World War II, and is also closed to further deposits. Catacomb B, beneath the Anglican Chapel in the centre of the cemetery, has space for some 4,000 deposits, and still offers both private loculi and shelves or vaults for family groups. The catacomb extends under the entire footprint of the chapel and its colonnades. There are six aisles, within which each vault is numbered, running consecutively to number 216 at the south-western end of aisle 6.
Deposit within the catacombs of Kensal Green has always been more expensive and prestigious than burial in a simple plot in the grounds of the cemetery, although less costly than a brick-lined grave or mausoleum. Without the further expense and responsibility of a monument above the grave, the catacombs have afforded a secure, dignified and exclusive resting place for the well-to-do, particularly the unmarried, the childless and young children of those without family plots or mausolea elsewhere.
The cemetery contains the graves of 473 Commonwealth service personnel of the First World War—half of whom form a war graves plot in the south-west corner, the remainder in small groups or individual graves scattered throughout the grounds—and 51 of the Second who are all dispersed. In the First World War plot, at Section 213, a Screen Wall memorial lists casualties of both world wars whose graves could not be marked by headstones, besides five Second World War servicemen who were cremated at Kensal Green (also known as West London) Crematorium.The highest-ranking person buried here who is commemorated by the CWGC is General Sir Charles Douglas (1850–1914), Chief of the Imperial General Staff in early months of the First World War.
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The cemetery is remarkable for the number of Fellows of the Royal Society who are buried there, of whom the following is a small sample:
Although the cemetery is owned and run by the General Cemetery Company, The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery is a charitable organisationwhose purpose is the preservation, conservation and restoration for the public benefit of Kensal Green Cemetery. The charity organises tours and other events in the cemetery and has published books about the cemetery. The office of the Friends is in the Dissenters Chapel. The Friends group is a member of The National Federation of Cemetery Friends.
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Metropolitan Interments Act: 1850.
... and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery on 28 Nov.