Arnos Vale Cemetery

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Coordinates: 51°26′06″N 2°33′54″W / 51.435°N 2.565°W / 51.435; -2.565

Arnos Vale Cemetery is located in Bristol
Arnos Vale Cemetery
Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol

Arnos Vale Cemetery (grid reference ST606716) (also written Arno's Vale Cemetery), located in Arnos Vale, Bristol, England, was established in 1837. Its first burial was in 1839. The cemetery followed a joint-stock model, funded by shareholders.[1] It was laid out as an Arcadian landscape with buildings by Charles Underwood.[2] It is listed, Grade II*, on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England.[3]

Arnos Vale cemetery is located on the road from Bristol to Bath (A4). The cemetery is located just before Edward Road and Brislington, about 1 mile (1.6 km) from Temple Meads railway station and about 2 miles (3.2 km) from Bristol bus station.

General view

The cemetery includes a number of listed buildings and monuments, including the Grade II* listed Church of England Mortuary Chapel,[4] Nonconformist Mortuary Chapel,[5] and entrance lodges and gates[6] and screen walls to main entrance.[7]


The cemetery was designed by Charles Underwood in the style of a Greek Necropolis. Within a few years of its opening in 1837 it became the most fashionable place to be buried in Bristol.[8]

During the 20th century the cemetery fell into disrepair, and local groups began campaigning for its restoration. In 1987 the owner disclosed plans to exhume the bodies and develop the site for housing. Early in the 21st century following a public campaign the site was subject to a compulsory purchase order by Bristol City Council.[8]

In 2003 it was featured on the BBC programme Restoration. The cemetery was a South West region runner-up and has since received a £4.8 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant.[9] The cemetery is undergoing restoration, however the Mortuary Chapel,[10] Entrance Lodges and Gates[11] and Nonconformist Mortuary Chapel[12] remain on the English Heritage Heritage at Risk Register.

Broken graves awaiting restoration

Notable people buried at Arnos Vale[edit]

Epitaph for Raja Rammohun Roy

Chhatri of Raja Ram Mohan Roy[edit]

The reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy (22 May 1772 – 27 September 1833) died at Bristol on 27 September 1833 and was first buried at Stapleton, but was reinterred in 1843 in the newly laid out Arnos Vale cemetery under the mausoleum designed by William Prinsep, which is a copy of an Indian tomb or chhatri (literally meaning umbrella).[14] According to information available at the cemetery, a commemoration is held annually at this chhatri, attended by Unitarians, Bristol's Lord Mayor and the Indian High Commissioner plus Indians and British who remember with gratitude the works of the "Founder of Modern India".

A previously missing (and unknown) miniature ivory portrait bust of Raja Ram Mohan Roy was unveiled at the annual commemoration of the death of the Indian religious, social, and educational reformer, and humanitarian, at Arnos Vale cemetery in Bristol, on 22 September 2013. Ram Mohan Roy challenged traditional Hindu culture and indicated the lines of progress for Indian society under British rule. The ivory portrait bust of Ram Mohan Roy made in London in 1832 by the famous ivory carver Benjamin Cheverton (1796-1876), is based on a bust made around the same time by the gifted sculptor George Clarke (1796-1842). The bust is exceptional because Ram Mohan Roy gave sittings to Clarke (the only time he did this for a sculptor) to enable the bust to be modelled, and Cheverton copied the bust in ivory for George Clarke, who lent his model to Cheverton to enable this to be done. The process employed by Cheverton to make the copy means that it is identical with Clarke's bust, save that it is on a reduced scale. Clarke's bust is missing, and this small ivory bust is the finest three-dimensional representation of Ram Mohan Roy that exists, since it reflects exactly what was observed when the great man sat to Clarke to have his bust modelled.[15][16][17][18]

War Graves[edit]

More than 500 British Commonwealth servicemen and women from both World Wars commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) are buried or listed at the cemetery, mostly from military hospitals of the area. Most of the 356 servicemen from World War I are buried in the 'Soldiers Corner' plot near the main entrance. Special memorials commemorate one casualty whose grave could not be located and another buried at Bedminster Church Cemetery whose grave could not be maintained. There are 149 servicemen and women from World War II buried here, all in scattered graves apart from a group in a plot in the upper part of the cemetery who were from the Naval Hospital in Barrow Gurney. Those whose graves are not marked by headstones are listed on four bronze panels on a Screen Wall memorial.[19][20] Nearly 70,000 casualties from the Western Front were brought to Bristol on trains and in hospital ships, "and the relatively small number of servicemen buried in Bristol indicates that, once a wounded serviceman reached England, his chances of survival were quite good".[20]

The memorial, designed by W H Watkins, commissioned by the British Red Cross Society and paid for by public subscription, was unveiled by Emily, Duchess of Beaufort and dedicated by the Bishop of Bristol, the Right Rev George Nickson on 21 October 1921.[20] It consists of a central gallery of five arches (with the four bronze panels on the wall directly behind the two pairs of arches either side of the central arch) and two flanking walls.[19] On which are carved the inscriptions:[20]

Proclaim throughout the realm
The glorious dead Ye who pass this monument
AD 1914-1918 That we who died serving her
Rest here content [a]


Burial registers are held by the Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust.[22] Records of the Friends of Arnos Vale Cemetery are held at Bristol Archives (Ref. 45068) (online catalogue).

Grade II listed Monuments[edit]

A Celtic Cross from Arnos Vale Cemetery with a Lily carved into the stone. This exceptional example of carving has led to its Grade II listed status.
  • 1852 Monument to James Bartlett[23]
  • 1857 Monument to Thomas Lucas[24]
  • 1857 Monument to Francis Barber Ogden[25]
  • 1860 Monument to John Tilly[26]
  • 1880 Obelisk memorial[27]
  • 1890 Monument to Heber Denty[28]
  • Monument 2 metres east of Tilly monument[29]
  • The War Memorial[30]
  • Monument to Francis Bennett.[31]
  • Monument to Mary Breillat.[31]
  • Monument to Challenger Family.[31]
  • Monument to Susannah Clark.[31]
  • Monument to Thomas Daniel Doddrell.[31]
  • Monument to Lieut. James Gardner.[31]
  • Monument to Gwyer Family.[31]
  • Monument to Harwood.[31]
  • Monument to Thomas Gadd Matthews.[31]
  • Monument to Melsom Family.[31]
  • Monument next to Tilly monument.[31]
  • Monument to Elizabeth Paddon.[31]
  • Monument to PC Richard Hill.[31]
  • Monument to Rev. John Pratt.[31]
  • Monument to Thomas Renolds.[31]
  • Monument to Dr Thomas Tovey Smart.[31]
  • Monument to Isabella Weston.[31]
  • Monument to Rev. Walter Whiting.[31]
  • Monument to Joseph Williams.[31]


  1. ^ This is very similar to the epitaph on the earlier Wagon Hill Cemetery Monument near Ladysmith in South Africa which is dedicated to 14 members of the Imperial Light Horse who fell at the Battle of Wagon Hill during the Bore War, and was inspired by the famous epitaph of Simonides at Thermopylae.[21]


  1. ^ "Harriet Jordan, 2003 The register of parks and gardens: cemeteries". English Heritage. Archived from the original on 8 December 2006. Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  2. ^ "Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol, England". Parks & Gardens UK. Parks and Gardens Data Services Limited (PGDS). Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  3. ^ "Arnos Vale Cemetery". National Heritage List for England. Historic England. Archived from the original on 16 February 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Church of England Mortuary Chapel". Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  5. ^ "Nonconformist Mortuary Chapel". Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  6. ^ "Entrance Lodges and Gates to Arno's Vale Cemetery". Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  7. ^ "Screen walls to main entrance". Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  8. ^ a b Mellor, Penny (2013). Inside Bristol: Twenty Years of Open Doors Day. Redcliffe Press. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-1908326423.
  9. ^ "Arnos Vale Awarded £4.8 Million Heritage Lottery Funding". Nicholas Pearsons Associates, 2006. Archived from the original on 9 December 2006. Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  10. ^ "Mortuary Chapel, Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bath Road". English Heritage Register of Buildings at Risk. Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  11. ^ "Entrance Lodges and Gates, Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bath Road". English Heritage Register of Buildings at Risk. Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  12. ^ "Nonconformist Mortuary Chapel, Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bath Road". English Heritage Register of Buildings at Risk. Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  13. ^ William Dorling (1885). Memoirs of Dora Greenwell. J. Clarke. p. 244.
  14. ^ "Tomb of Raja Ram Mohan Roy". Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  15. ^ Sonwalkar, Prasun (23 September 2013). "Rare bust of Rammohun Roy unveiled in Britain". Business Standard. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  16. ^ "Rare bust of Rammohun Roy unveiled in Britain". Daijiworld Media. 23 September 2013. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  17. ^ Ghose, Chandreyee (29 September 2013). "The Rajah rediscovered on reel". The Telegraph (Calcutta). Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  18. ^ Basu, Shrabani (29 September 2013). "Portrait of a reformer". The Telegraph (Calcutta). Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  19. ^ a b "Bristol (Arnos Vale) Cemetery". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 2013. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  20. ^ a b c d The Bristol Post (21 October 2011). "The memorial that ensures we will never forget our soldiers". Express and Echo. Archived from the original on 22 June 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  21. ^ Vandiver, Elizabeth (2010), Stand in the Trench, Achilles: Classical Receptions in British Poetry of the Great War Classical Presences, Oxford University Press, p. lxii, ISBN 9780191609213
  22. ^ "Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust webpage". Archived from the original on 1 December 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  23. ^ "Monument to James Bartlett". Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  24. ^ "Monument to Thomas Lucas". Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  25. ^ "Monument to Francis Barber Ogden". Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  26. ^ "Monument to John Tilly". Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  27. ^ "Obelisk memorial". Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  28. ^ "Monument to Heber Denty". Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  29. ^ "Monument 2 metres east of Tilly monument". Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  30. ^ "War Memorial". Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Listed Monuments". Arnos Vale. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 8 March 2015.

External links[edit]