Kensal Green Cemetery

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Kensal Green Cemetery
Kensal Green Cemetery view December 2005.jpg
Details
Year established 1832
Location 385 Ladbroke Grove, Kensington, Greater London NW10 5JX Kensal Green, London
Country England
Style Protestant
Size 72 acres (29 ha)
Number of graves 65,000+
Number of interments 250,000
Website Official website
A typical mausoleum, Kensal Green Cemetery
The grave of Henry Howard, 3rd Earl of Effingham, Kensal Green Cemetery
The grave of Baldomero de Bertodano, Kensal Green Cemetery
The tomb of Charles Spencer Ricketts, Kensal Green Cemetery
The Robert Owen Memorial (with the Reformers Memorial to the right), Kensal Green Cemetery
Detail of the Reformers Monument, Kensal Green Cemetery
The crumbling beauty of Andrew Ducrow's grave, Kensal Green Cemetery
A typical statuary detail, Kensal Green Cemetery

Kensal Green Cemetery is a cemetery in Kensal Green, in the west of London, England, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Inspired by the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and founded by the barrister George Frederick Carden,[1] Kensal Green Cemetery was opened in 1833 and comprises 72 acres of grounds, including two conservation areas, adjoining a canal. Kensal Green Cemetery is home to at least 33 species of bird and other wildlife. This distinctive cemetery has a host of different memorials ranging from large mausoleums housing the rich and famous to many distinctive smaller graves and even includes special areas dedicated to the very young. With three chapels catering for people of all faiths and social standing, the General Cemetery Company has provided a haven in the heart of London for over 180 years for its inhabitants to remember their loved one in a tranquil and dignified environment.[2]

The area 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."[3]

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.

Location[edit]

The cemetery is located in the London Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and its main entrance is located on Harrow Road (near to the junction with Ladbroke Grove and Chamberlayne Road). The cemetery can also be entered through the West Gate (near the junction with Greyhound Road), which is also the entrance to the West London Crematorium (owned and operated by the same company that owns and operates Kensal Green Cemetery) 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 Grand Union Canal.

History and description[edit]

Establishment and design[edit]

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,[4] including Andrew Spottiswoode, MP for Saltash, sculptor Robert William Sievier, banker Sir John Dean Paul,[1] Charles Broughton Bowman (first committee secretary),[5] and architects Thomas Willson (who had previously proposed an ambitious Metropolitan Sepulchre project) and Augustus Charles Pugin,[6] 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.[4]

Paul, a partner in the London banking firm of Strahan, Paul, Paul and Bates, found and conditionally purchased the 54 acres 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;[6] 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 gateway.[4] Founded as the General Cemetery of All Souls, Kensal Green, the cemetery was the first of the "Magnificent Seven" garden-style cemeteries in London. Kensal Green Cemetery was consecrated on 24 January 1833 by the Bishop of London, receiving its first funeral the same month.

Layout[edit]

The overall layout is on an east-west axes, 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.[7]

It is still in operation today; burials and cremations take place daily, although cremations are now more common than interments. Kensal Green 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 Kensal Green Cemetery.

Whilst 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 65,000 graves, including upwards of 500 members of the British nobility and 550 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.

Notable structures[edit]

Many buildings and structures within Kensal Green are listed.

The Anglican Chapel is listed grade I, while the non-conformist Mortuary Chapel, colonnade/catacomb and perimeter walls and railings are listed grade II or II*. Of the many tombs, memorials and mausoleums, eight are listed grade II*, while The Reformers' Memorial is listed grade II.

The Anglican Chapel[edit]

The Anglican Chapel is at the centre of the cemetery, and contains several tombs. 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.

The Reformers' Memorial[edit]

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'. Lists of names of reformers and radicals on north and east sides (together with further names added in 1907 by Emma Corfield). A pair to the Robert Owen memorial, and a second instance of a non-funerary memorial in the cemetery's Non-Conformist section.

The memorial was amended to include Lloyd Jones to recognise his contribution. The following is copied from Dr Tony Shaw's website, http://tonyshaw3.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/cenotaph-to-Robert-owen-who-was-buried.html where a number of photographs are available:

"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 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.

                         HIS LIFE WAS SANCTIFIED BY HUMAN AFFECTION AND LOFTY EFFORT.
                                                                    J. W.CORFIELD"

"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 SUPPORITNG HOME COLONIES. LETTERS TO THE HUMAN RACE. REVOLUTION IN MIND AND PRACTICE. ROBERT OWEN'S JOURNAL. LIFE OF ROBERT OWEN."

The catacombs[edit]

Kensal Green Cemetery is distinguished by 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 4000 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 also numbered, running consecutively to number 216 at the south-western end of aisle 6.

Interment 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.[8]

War graves[edit]

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 servicemen who were cremated at Kensal Green Crematorium.[9] 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 at outbreak of the First World War.[10]

Notable burials[edit]

Monuments and chapel at Kensal Green Cemetery

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:

Royal burials[edit]

Notable cremations[edit]

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b The Founding of Kensal Green Cemetery Accessed 7 February 2014
  2. ^ Kensal Green Cemetery website.
  3. ^ It is still in operation. Chesterton, Gilbert Keith (1914). "The Rolling English Road". The Flying Inn. 
  4. ^ a b c "Kensal Green", Survey of London: volume 37: Northern Kensington (1973), pp. 333-339. Accessed 10 February 2014.
  5. ^ Kensal Green Founders Accessed 10 February 2014
  6. ^ a b Arnold, Catharine (2006). Necropolis: London and its dead. London: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781416502487. 
  7. ^ "Dissenters' Chapel", Kensal Green Cemetery.
  8. ^ The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery.
  9. ^ CWGC Cemetery Report.
  10. ^ CWGC Debt of Honour Register.
  11. ^ Remembering Frederick Scott Archer BBC article, 27 April 2010
  12. ^  Boase, George Clement (1896). "Quin, Frederic Hervey Foster". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 47. London: Smith, Elder & Co. "… and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery on 28 Nov." 
  13. ^ W. B. Owen, revised by H. C. G. Matthew, 'Reich, Emil (1854–1910)', in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) online version (subscription required), accessed 26 September 2013

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°31′43″N 0°13′27″W / 51.5286°N 0.2241°W / 51.5286; -0.2241