Brompton Cemetery

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Coordinates: 51°29′06″N 0°11′27″W / 51.484882°N 0.19079600°W / 51.484882; -0.19079600

Brompton Cemetery
United Kingdom - England - London - Brompton Cemetery.jpg
Details
Year established 1840
Location West Brompton, London
Country England
Type Public
Size 39 acres (16 ha)
Number of graves 35,000+
Number of interments 205,000
Website Official website

Brompton Cemetery is located near Earl's Court in West London, England (postal districts SW5 and SW10), in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is managed by The Royal Parks, and is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries. Established by Act of Parliament, it opened in 1840 and was originally known as the West of London and Westminster Cemetery.

Consecrated by the Bishop of London in June 1840, it is one of Britain's oldest and most distinguished garden cemeteries. Some 35,000 monuments, from simple headstones to substantial mausolea, mark the resting place of more than 205,000 burials. The site includes large plots for family mausolea, and common graves where coffins are piled deep into the earth, as well as a small columbarium. Brompton was closed to burials between 1952 and 1996, but is once again a working cemetery, with plots for interments and a 'Garden of Remembrance' for the deposit of cremated remains.[1]

Location[edit]

The official address of Brompton Cemetery is Old Brompton Road in West Brompton, SW10, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The Main Gate (or North Gate) is near the junction with Kempsford Gardens. There is another gate (the South Gate), located on the Fulham Road near the junction with Hortensia Road.

History[edit]

Brompton Cemetery Chapel
Central avenue, Brompton Cemetery
Central section, Brompton Cemetery
Outer east section, Brompton Cemetery

The cemetery was one of seven large, modern cemeteries founded by private companies in the mid-19th century (sometimes called the 'Magnificent Seven') forming a ring around the edge of London. The inner city burial grounds, mostly churchyards, had long been unable to cope with the number of burials and were seen as a hazard to health and an undignified way to treat the dead.

Brompton Cemetery was designed by Benjamin Baud and has at its centre a modest domed chapel (in the style of the basilica of St. Peter's in Rome) at it southern end, reached by long colonnades, and flanked by catacombs. The chapel is dated 1839. The site, previously market gardens, was bought from Lord Kensington and is 39 acres (160,000 m2) in area. The cemetery was designed to give the feel of a large open air cathedral. It is rectangular in shape with the north end pointing to the northwest and the south end to the southeast. It has a central "nave" which runs from Old Brompton Road towards the central colonnade and chapel.

Below the colonnades are catacombs which were originally conceived as a cheaper alternative burial to having a plot in the grounds of the cemetery. Unfortunately, the catacombs were not a success and only about 500 of the many thousands of places in them were sold. There is also an entrance on the south side from the Fulham Road. The Metropolitan Interments Act 1850 gave the government powers to purchase commercial cemeteries. The shareholders of the cemetery were relieved to be able to sell their shares as the cost of building the cemetery had overrun and they had seen little return on their investment.

It is listed as Grade II* in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England and five of the individual monuments are listed as Grade II.[2]

Buried in the cemetery are 289 Commonwealth service personnel of World War I and 79 of World War II, whose graves are registered and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, a few of whom are instanced in the list of Notable Interments (below).[3] The majority of war graves are contained in a railed section to the west (also containing 19th century servicemen graves)

Trivia[edit]

Beatrix Potter, who lived in The Boltons nearby, may have taken the names of some of her characters from tombstones in the cemetery. Names of people buried there included Mr. Nutkins, Mr. McGregor, Mr Brock, Mr Tod, Jeremiah Fisher and even a Peter Rabbett, although it is not known for certain if there were tombstones with these names.[4][5]

The cemetery has a reputation for being a popular cruising ground for gay men.[6]

Brompton Cemetery has featured in a number of films, including David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises (starring Viggo Mortensen), The Wisdom of Crocodiles (Jude Law), Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (also with Jude Law) as the location of 'Lord Blackwood's Tomb', Crush (Imelda Staunton and Andie MacDowell), Stormbreaker (starring Alex Pettyfer, Ewan McGregor, Stephen Fry and Mickey Rourke), Finding Neverland (starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet) and Johnny English (starring Rowan Atkinson); The Wings of the Dove (starring Helena Bonham Carter), as well as being used as a location by photographers such as Bruce Weber (see "The Chop Suey Club").

Notable interments[edit]

Nutkins gravestone
Tomb of Frederick Richards Leyland (the only Grade II* funerary monument in Brompton Cemetery)

Famous occupants of the cemetery include:

The Native American Sioux chief, Long Wolf, a veteran of the Sioux wars was buried here on 13 June 1892 having died age 59 of bronchial pneumonia while taking part in the European tour of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. He shared the grave with a 17-month-old Sioux girl named White Star believed to have fallen from her mother's arms while on horseback. 105 years later a British woman named Elizabeth Knight traced his family and campaigned with them to have his remains returned to the land of his birth. In 1997, Chief Long Wolf was finally moved to a new plot in the Wolf Creek Cemetery (ancestral burial ground of the Oglala Sioux tribe) at Pine Ridge, South Dakota. His great grandson John Black Feather said "Back then, they had burials at sea, they did ask his wife if she wanted to take him home and she figured that as soon as they hit the water they would throw him overboard, so that's why they left him here."[7][8][9]

There was another Sioux tribesman buried in Brompton named Paul Eagle Star. His plot was in the same section as Oglala Sioux warrior Surrounded By the Enemy who died in 1887 from a lung infection at age 22. Like Long Wolf, he took part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Paul died a few days after breaking his ankle when he fell off a horse in August 1891. His casket was exhumed in spring of 1999 by his grandchildren, Moses and Lucy Eagle Star. The reburial took place in Rosebud's Lakota cemetery. Philip James accompanied the repatriation.

Little Chief and Good Robe's eighteen month old son, Red Penny who travelled in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show is also buried here.[10] The resting places of both Surrounded and Red Penny remain a mystery.

Gallery[edit]

Brompton Cemetery is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries, and is adjacent to Stamford Bridge, the home ground of Chelsea Football Club.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Brompton Cemetery". Brompton-cemetery.org. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  2. ^ Leaflet entitled "Brompton Cemetery" issued by the Friends of Brompton Cemetery
  3. ^ r. "Cemetery Details". CWGC. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  4. ^ Barden, Karen (3 August 2001). "Grave inspiration to Beatrix Potter". The Westmorland Gazette (Newsquest (North West) Ltd). Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Baker, Erin (28 July 2001). "Beatrix Potter's cast list found on headstones". The Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group Limited). Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  6. ^ "Go west, young man". QX Magazine International. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "Brompton Cemetery". BBC. 9 April 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2010. 
  8. ^ "Chief Long Wolf goes home, 105 years late". CNN. 25 September 1997. Retrieved 1 March 2010. 
  9. ^ Weaver, Maurice (5 May 1997). "Sioux reclaim tribal chief from English grave". London: Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 1 March 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2010. 
  10. ^ "Red Penny (1886 - 1887) - Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Meller, Hugh & Brian Parsons, London Cemeteries: an illustrated guide and gazetteer, The History Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-7509-4622-3.
  • Beach, Darren, London's Cemeteries, Metro Guides, 2006, ISBN 1-902910-23-0
  • Culbertson, Judi & Tom Randall, Permanent Londoners: An Illustrated Guide to the Cemeteries of London. Post Mills, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1991.

External links[edit]