City of London Cemetery and Crematorium

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City of London Cemetery and Crematorium
Gate and sign CoLC&C.JPG
The Main Gate and Sign
Established 1856
Location London Borough of Newham, London
Country England
Coordinates 51°33′28″N 0°02′40″E / 51.55782°N 0.04432°E / 51.55782; 0.04432
Type Public
Size 200 acres (81 ha)
Number of graves 150,000+
Number of interments approaching 1 million
Website Official website

The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium is a cemetery and crematorium in the north east of London. It is the largest such municipal facility in the UK and probably in Europe.[1]
It is owned and operated by the City of London Corporation. It is designated Grade I on the English Heritage National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Anyone may be interred at the City of London Cemetery irrespective of city connections or religious beliefs.[2] At the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium, they reuse old graves which have not been used for more than 75 years, and which are known to have depth for at least two more burials. English Heritage has listed many burial grounds and says it has no objection to the reuse of graves in principle, as long as heritage is protected.[3]


The cemetery is located on the east side of Aldersbrook Road, in Manor Park, in the London Borough of Newham, near Epping Forest. It has two entrances, the Main Gate, which is located close the junction of Forest Drive and the Aldersbrook Road. There is a small gate on the junction with Rabbits Road, called the South Gate.


In 1849 William J. Haywood, Chief Engineer of the City of London Commissioners of Sewers, reported on the condition of the city's churchyards and their health risks. The Commissioners were responsible for public hygiene and sanitation and were in effect also the burial board for the City of London, due to an Act of Parliament in 1852. The commissioners directed that a cemetery be built for the city's 106 parishes, to replace intramural interment (burial within the confines of a parish). The task was taken up by William Haywood and Dr John Simon.

In 1853 this led to the purchase of land owned by the 2nd Duke of Wellington. The 200 acres (0.81 km2) of land suited the construction of the cemetery because it was accessible (only 7 miles (11 km) to the centre of the City of London), had attractive planting and porous, gravelly, well drained soil. This former farm land was sold to the Corporation for £30,721 and the cemetery was founded in 1854. It was laid out in 1855 by William Haywood, who designated 89 acres (360,000 m2) for burial but also reserved land for plots sold in perpetuity, buildings, landscaping and roads. He was helped by landscape gardener Robert Davidson.[4] In selecting planting, Haywood and Simon were guided by John Claudius Loudon's On the Laying Out, Planting, and Managing of Cemeteries (1843). The total cost is estimated at over £45,000, which is approximately £26,000 more than originally planned.

The first interment was on 24 June 1856, although the cemetery was not consecrated until November 1857, due to legal difficulties (which were solved in the Burial Act 1857). It is estimated that in 1858 around 2,700 interments took place. Approximately 600,000 people have been interred here and with the remains from over 30 London Church yards also placed on the site, the figure is approaching 1 million.[5]


The cemetery has many different burial sites. It also has a number of chapels. At the beginning of the 20th century a crematorium was built (designed by D.J. Ross), at a cost of around £7,000 and was opened on October 25, 1904 in the presence of Sir Henry Thompson. Cremations were taking place from about a year later. There are now two crematoria, designated the Old and the New. The Old Crematorium is no longer in use as a crematorium but is still used as a chapel. The New Crematorium is a modern symmetrical building (1971, designed by E.G. Chandler) containing two separate crematoria (each having two cremators). There is also a Chapel of Remembrance and a Columbarium. The cemetery is one of only a few cemeteries in London with catacombs. This however has proven to be an unpopular method of burial, part of the unused catacombs have now been converted into columbarium space.

In 1937 a Garden of Rest was constructed, followed by a series of Memorial Gardens (there are an estimated 20,000 rose bushes in this area alone).


The cemetery and crematorium are still open, although the cemetery is reaching capacity. There are now in excess of 150,000 gravesites and new burials have begun to be placed atop older burials, leaving deep interments undisturbed.[6] This is done very sensitively, involving experts and the family of the deceased (if known).

Today, the Cemetery and Crematorium are non-denominational, but originally there was an Anglican chapel, with a 61 ft (19 m) spire and an unusual round Dissenter's chapel (designed by William Haywood).

There are 727 Commonwealth service personnel of both World Wars commemorated at the cemetery, many buried in a War Graves plot, which has a Cross of Sacrifice and a Screen Wall memorial that lists casualties who are buried in the plot or elsewhere in the cemetery without headstones, besides those cremated at the City of London Crematorium. Many of the soldiers died at the Bethnal Green Military Hospital.[7]

Historical Importance[edit]

It is designated Grade I on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. The cemetery is also interesting because it has been in continuous use since its opening. The social attitude towards the afterlife is reflected in the way the cemetery is laid out, ranging from Victorian to contemporary. Many of the churches that were demolished in London had their dead reinterred in the City of London Cemetery (see Reburial and memorials section).

Reburial and memorials[edit]

The Union of Benefices Act 1860 allowed for the demolition of many unused City churches, and for the reinterment of the remains in the City of London Cemetery. The cemetery also contains inhumations from London churches destroyed during the Blitz.

Some churches were destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and never rebuilt due to the Rebuilding Act. Many were joined with other parishes. Their churchyards were either left, moved to a new location or to this cemetery (sometimes at a later date). Among these were:

And of course:

  • French Hospital memorial

Notable burials[edit]

People reputed to have been reinterred here.

Other last resting places.

  • Bobby Moore, footballer, was cremated at Putney Vale Crematorium, but his ashes rest in the Garden of Remembrance.
  • Veronica Foley, aka Ronnie, Stage and Television actress & drama teacher, from the Sylvia Young Theatre School.



The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium is open 365 days per year and offers beautiful formal gardens, well maintained roadways, over 3,500 mature trees and the local heritage for the last 150 years within a well maintained rolling landscape. The Cemetery and Crematorium offers its visitors uniformed information staff, a florist shop and a tea room with its own garden and even a free weekend bus service.[9]

The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium is maintained to a very high standard, and has been awarded the (Green Flag Award.[10])


There are a number of ways to get to the cemetery using public transport.

  • British Rail has two stations in the vicinity: Manor Park and Ilford.
  • The London Underground: East Ham
  • The London Overground: Woodgrange Park
  • Bus: W19, 25, 86 and 101 (there is a bus stop at the main gate).


Further reading[edit]

  • Beach, Darren, London's Cemeteries, Metro Guides, 2006.
  • Meller, Hugh & Brian Parsons, London Cemeteries: an illustrated guide and gazetteer, The History Press, 2008.
  • Francis, Doris with Leonie Kellaher and Georgina Neophytou, The Secret Cemetery, Berg Publishers, 2005

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°33′36″N 0°02′53″E / 51.560°N 0.048°E / 51.560; 0.048