The two Camberwell cemeteries are close to one another in Honor Oak, South London, England. Both have noteworthy burials and architecture, and they are an important source of socioeconomic data in recording the historical growth and changing demography in the community for the Southwark area since 1855.
Camberwell Old Cemetery
The old cemetery, located on Forest Hill Road, covers approximately 30 acres (0.12 km2). It is part of the second wave of mid 19th century cemeteries that were established in London to solve the problem of overcrowding in church yards. The first wave of cemeteries are commonly known as the Magnificent Seven.
The site was purchased in 1855 by the Camberwell Cemetery Board (formed 1850) from the Trustees of Sir Walter St John's Charity at Battersea for £9,927.00. It was originally meadow land, which was then designated as a Burial Ground of St Giles, Camberwell.
The first interment took place on 3 July 1856; over 30,000 burials took place in the subsequent 30 years. In 1874 the cemetery was expanded by a further seven acres with the inclusion of land bought from the British Land Company for £4,550.00. By 1984, 300,000 interments had been carried out at the cemetery.
The Gothic Revival lodge and chapel were designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott's architectural firm. When burials were transferred to the New Cemetery the chapel fell into disrepair and was eventually demolished. Later the architectural importance of the lodge was recognised and when it was destroyed by fire in the 1970s it was restored rather than being torn down. The lodge was used in the 1970 film adaptation of Joe Orton's play Entertaining Mr Sloane.
There are 288 Commonwealth service war graves from the First World War, 160 of whom are in a war graves plot in cemetery's north-east corner where there are two Screen Wall memorials, one listing those buried in the plot and the other those buried elsewhere in the cemetery whose graves could not be marked by headstones. There is also a group of special memorials to 14 casualties buried in the Second World War.
Notable graves in the Old Cemetery
- Able Seaman Albert Edward McKenzie VC in Zeebrugge Raid, died October 1918
- William Stanlake VC in Battle of Inkerman, died 1904
- Charles Waters, founder of the International Bible Reading Association
- James John Berkeley, chief engineer of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway
- Frederick John Horniman, founder of the Horniman Museum, died 1906
Camberwell New Cemetery
The cemetery is located on Brenchley Gardens about half a mile from the old cemetery. In the early 20th Century it was recognised that the original cemetery would be at capacity in the near future. The land for the new cemetery was purchased in three lots in 1901:
- The central portion of 24 acres (0.097 km2) was bought from Alfred Stevens, farmer and landowner of Peckham Rye for £11,305
- The western portion, 32 acres (0.13 km2), next to One Tree Hill was bought later in 1901 also from Alfred Stevens for £19,469
- A final 12 acres (0.049 km2), adjoining the Brockley footpath were bought from the Governors of Christ's Hospital for £6,325
Following its acquisition much of the 68 acres (0.28 km2) of land was rented out for other uses, including a golf club and a fireworks factory run by Joseph Wells. Although much of the land was later used for interments there are large portions that remain unused for burials. Some of this land is now a recreation ground and there now is strong local opposition to this land being used for its original purpose of burials.
In 1926 the first part of the land was laid out as a cemetery and was consecrated by the Right Reverend William Woodcock Hough, Bishop of Woolwich. The first interment took place on the 23rd May 1927. A smaller section was set aside for use of Free Churches.
The lodge, waiting room and mortuary chapels were designed by Sir Aston Webb and his son, Maurice. Maurice Webb was the architect for the crematorium, built in 1939 to meet a growing demand for cremations. It is situated in the cemetery grounds, ten acres of which were landscaped as memorial gardens. The crematorium is also a listed building and is notable for its beautiful stained glass window. By 1984 over 91,000 cremations had been conducted.
In addition to one grave from the First World War, there are 198 Commonwealth service war graves of the Second, some 80 of the latter in war graves plot in Squares 91 and 92. A Screen Wall memorial lists some 120 whose graves could not be marked by headstones, and 56 other service personnel who were cremated at the crematorium.
Notable graves in the New Cemetery
- Freddie Mills world light heavyweight boxing champion from 1948 to 1950
- George Cornell East end gangster famously shot by the Kray twins in 1966 at The Blind Beggar public house
- William Pullum world weight-lifting champion
- London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer, Mellor and Parsons, 4th edition 2008
- Camberwell Old Cemetery London's forgotten Valhalla, R Woollacott, 2000
- UK Parliament, Memorandum by Southwark Regeneration (CEM 77), 2000
- Genealogical Research, England and Wales, Victorian London Cemeteries
- London's Victorian Garden Cemeteries, Catherine Richards, Time Travel Britain
- Victorian London - Death and dying - Overcrowding, The Victorian Dictionary, compiled by Lee Jackson
- Southwark Council, Cemeteries, Camberwell Old Cemetery
- Save Honor Oak Recreation Park,The Forest Hill Society.com
- Architecture in Cemeteries, Ancestry Aid, Mary C
- Lodge to Old Camberwell Cemetery, British Listed Buildings
- Entertaining Mr Sloane(1970), Internet Movie Database
-  CWGC Cemetery report.
- Flying Bombs and Rockets, V1 & V2 Logs SE21 & 22 Dulwich, Camberwell Old Cemetery, 02/07/44
- Metropolitan Police, News Item Accessed 10/11/11
- BBC News 10/11/11
- Albert Edward McKenzie, Grave locations for holders of the Victoria Cross, South East London
- William Stanlake, Grave locations for holders of the Victoria Cross, South East London
- Monument to Charles Waters, Camberwell Old Cemetery, British Listed Buildings
- Eminent Railwaymen of Yesteryear, James J. Berkeley, Indian Railway Fan Club, R.R.Bhandari, July 2008
- Horniman, Frederick John - Horniman Museum & Garden's website
- Lodge, Camberwell New Cemetery, British Listed Buildings
- Cremetorium, Camberwell New Cemetery, British Listed Buildings
- Honor Oak Park, Get Walking
-  CWGC Cemetery report.
- Film London, Guide to filming in London, November 2010, Camberwell New Cemetery
- Freddie Mills, Camberwell New Cemetery and Crematorium, Find a grave
- George Cornell, Camberwell New Cemetery and Crematorium, Find a grave
- Super Strength Books, William A Pullum: Wizard of the Weight-Lifting World
- William Pullum, Camberwell New Cemetery and Crematorium, Find a grave
- William A. Pullum, The Underground, Mixed Martial Arts, Ross Enamait