Magnificent Seven cemeteries

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Greater London

The "Magnificent Seven" is an informal term applied to seven large cemeteries in London. They were established in the 19th century to alleviate overcrowding in existing parish burial grounds.[1]


For hundreds of years, almost all London's dead were buried in small parish churchyards, which quickly became dangerously overcrowded. Architects such as Sir Christopher Wren and Sir John Vanbrugh both deplored this practice and wished to see suburban cemeteries established,[2] but it was not until British visitors to Paris, including George Frederick Carden, were inspired by its Père Lachaise cemetery that something similar was developed in London: at Kensal Green.

In the first 50 years of the 19th century the population of London more than doubled from 1 million to 2.3 million. Overcrowded graveyards also led to decaying matter getting into the water supply and causing epidemics. There were stories of graves being dug that already contained bodies, and bodies being flushed directly into the newly built sewer system.[citation needed]

The cemeteries[edit]

In 1832 Parliament passed a bill encouraging the establishment of private cemeteries outside London, and later passed a bill to close all inner London churchyards to new deposits.[citation needed] Over the next decade seven cemeteries were established:

In 1981 the architectural historian Hugh Meller dubbed the group of cemeteries "The Magnificent Seven" after the 1960 western film of the same name.[1][3]


  1. ^ a b Meller, Hugh (1981). London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer. Amersham: Avebury. ISBN 0-86127-003-7. 
  2. ^ Arnold, Catharine (2006). Necropolis: London and its dead. London: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781416502487. 
  3. ^ Lynne Walker (December 1983). "Review: London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer". The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 42 (4): 393–4. doi:10.2307/989929. 

External links[edit]