Brompton Cemetery

Coordinates: 51°29′06″N 0°11′27″W / 51.4849°N 0.1908°W / 51.4849; -0.1908
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Brompton Cemetery
Coordinates51°29′06″N 0°11′27″W / 51.4849°N 0.1908°W / 51.4849; -0.1908
Owned byCrown property, managed by Royal Parks of London
Size16 hectares (40 acres)
No. of graves35,000+
No. of interments205,000
WebsiteOfficial website
Find a GraveBrompton Cemetery
Listed Building – Grade I
Official nameBrompton Cemetery
Designated1 October 1987
Reference no.1000248
Official nameBrompton Cemetery
Designated1 October 1987
Reference no.1000248

Brompton Cemetery (originally the West of London and Westminster Cemetery)[1] is since 1852 the first (and only) London cemetery to be Crown property, managed by The Royal Parks, in West Brompton in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.[2] It is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries. Established by Act of Parliament and laid out in 1839, it opened in 1840. Consecrated by Charles James Blomfield, Bishop of London, in June 1840, it is one of Britain's oldest and most distinguished garden cemeteries. Some 35,000 monuments, from simple headstones to substantial mausolea, mark more than 205,000 resting places. The site includes large plots for family mausolea, and common graves where coffins are piled deep into the earth. It also has a small columbarium, and a secluded Garden of Remembrance at the northern end for cremated remains. The cemetery continues to be open for burials. It is also known as an urban haven for nature. In 2014, it was awarded a National Lottery grant to carry out essential restoration and develop a visitor centre, among other improvements.[3] The restoration work was completed in 2018.[4]

Although the cemetery was originally established by a private company, it is now the property of the Crown.[5]


Charles Booth 1889 map – detail showing Brompton Cemetery

Brompton Cemetery is adjacent to West Brompton station in west London, England. The main entrance is at North Lodge, Old Brompton Road in West Brompton, SW5, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. There is another entrance at South Lodge, located on the Fulham Road, SW10 near the junction with Redcliffe Gardens.


Brompton Cemetery Chapel
Tomb of Frederick Richards Leyland (the only Grade II* funerary monument in Brompton Cemetery)
The military section, Brompton Cemetery
Main avenue
Outer east section, Brompton Cemetery
Colonnade, Brompton Cemetery, London
Central roundel, Brompton Cemetery
Emmeline Pankhurst's grave
Angels, Brompton Cemetery
Monument of Valentine Cameron Prinsep
Grave of Nellie Farren
Robert Coombes monument
Burnside Monument
Alfred Mellon monument
Barbe Sangiorgi monument
Grave of Dr. Antoni Kutek by Mieczysław Lubelski 1954
Marchesa Casati grave

By the early years of the 19th century, inner city burial grounds, mostly churchyards, had long been unable to cope with the number of burials and were seen as a hazard to health and an undignified way to treat the dead. In 1837 a decision was made to lay out a new burial ground in Brompton, London. The moving spirit behind the project was the architect and engineer, Stephen Geary, and it was necessary to form a company in order to get parliamentary permission to raise capital for the purpose. Geary was appointed as architect but was later forced to resign. Securing the land – some 40 acres – from local landowner, Lord Kensington and the Equitable Gas Light Company, as well as raising the money proved an extended challenge.[6] The cemetery became one of seven large, new cemeteries founded by private companies in the mid-19th century (sometimes called the 'Magnificent Seven') forming a ring around the edge of London.

The site, previously market gardens, was bought with the intervention of John Gunter of Fulham,[7] and was 39 acres (160,000 m2) in area. Brompton Cemetery was eventually designed by architect, Benjamin Bauda. At its centre is a modest sandstone domed chapel dated 1839; at its southern end, are two symmetrical long colonnades, now all Grade II* listed, in the style of St. Peter's Square in Rome, and flanked by catacombs.[8][9][10][11][12] It was intended to give the feel of a large open air cathedral. It is rectangular in shape with the north end pointing to the northwest and the south end to the southeast. It has a central "nave" which runs from Old Brompton Road towards the central colonnade and chapel. During a 4-year restoration project that began in 2014, an original Victorian flooring with Bath and York stone radial pattern was uncovered underneath the chapel carpet.[13]

Below the colonnades are catacombs which were originally conceived as a cheaper alternative burial to having a plot in the grounds of the cemetery. Unfortunately, the catacombs were not a success and only about 500 of the many thousands of places in them were sold. The Metropolitan Interments Act 1850 gave the government powers to purchase commercial cemeteries. The shareholders of the cemetery company were relieved to be able to sell their shares as the cost of building the cemetery had overrun and they had seen little return on their investment and there were few burials at first.[6]

During World War II the cemetery suffered bomb damage.

Heritage status[edit]

As a site, the cemetery is listed Grade I in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. The chapel and each arcade quadrant is separately listed as Grade II*. Frederick Richards Leyland's is the only Grade II* listed funerary monument.[14] Several other individual monuments are listed Grade II. They include:

In all there are up to forty items associated with the cemetery which have a Historic England listing, including gates and telephone kiosks.[16]


Brompton was closed to burials between 1952 and 1996, except for family and Polish interments, of which there are over 300.[17] In the 21st century it is once again a working cemetery, with plots for interments and a 'Garden of Remembrance' for the deposit of cremated remains.[18] Many nationalities and faiths from across the world are represented in the cemetery.

Military graves[edit]

From 1854 to 1939, Brompton Cemetery became the London District's Military Cemetery. The Royal Hospital Chelsea purchased a plot in the north west corner where they have a monument in the form of an obelisk; the Brigade of the Guards has its own section south of that. There are 289 Commonwealth service personnel of World War I and 79 of World War II, whose graves are registered and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. A number of veterans are listed in the Notable Interments.[19] Although the majority of war graves are in the dedicated railed section to the west – also containing 19th century services graves – a number of servicemen's graves are scattered in other areas. Besides the British there are many notable Czechoslovak, Polish and Russian military burials.

Notable interments[edit]

It was originally planned that Sir Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan fame would also be buried there with his family, until Queen Victoria insisted on his interment in St Paul's Cathedral.


In the late 1880s when the nearby Earl's Court Exhibition Grounds played host to the American Show with Buffalo Bill, a number of Native American performers in the show, died while on tour in Britain.[21] The Sioux chief, Long Wolf, a veteran of the Oglala Sioux wars was buried here on 13 June 1892 having died age 59 of bronchial pneumonia. He shared the grave with a 17-month-old Sioux girl named White Star believed to have fallen from her mother's arms while on horseback. A British woman, Elizabeth Knight, traced his family 105 years later and campaigned with them to have his remains returned to the land of his birth.[22] In 1997, Chief Long Wolf was finally moved to a new plot at Wolf Creek Cemetery (ancestral burial ground of the Oglala Sioux tribe) in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

His great-grandson John Black Feather said "Back then, they had burials at sea, they did ask his wife if she wanted to take him home and she figured that as soon as they hit the water they would throw him overboard, so that's why they left him here."[1][23][24]

There was a Brulé Sioux tribesman buried in Brompton named Paul Eagle Star. His plot was in the same section as Oglala Sioux warrior Surrounded By the Enemy who died in 1887 from a lung infection at age 22.[25] Like Long Wolf, he took part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Paul died a few days after breaking his ankle when he fell off a horse in August 1891. His casket was exhumed in spring of 1999 by his grandchildren, Moses and Lucy Eagle Star. The reburial took place in Rosebud's Lakota cemetery. Philip James accompanied the repatriation.

Little Chief and Good Robe's 18-month-old son, Red Penny, who travelled in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show is also buried here.[26] His specific resting place within the cemetery is not known.

Two notable Polish figures originally buried in Brompton Cemetery were reburied in Powazki Cemetery, Warsaw:[17]

Two other exhumations involved Polish bishops of the Polish Orthodox Church:

Both were re-buried at the Orthodox Cemetery, Warsaw on 31 December 2012.[27]

Funerary art[edit]

The richness of the art and symbolism contained in many graves traces art movements across two centuries. Aside from the stonemason's and sculptor's craft, there is a vast array of lettering, decorative ironwork (sadly in a very corroded state) and ceramics. Some graves and mausolea are the work of noted artists and architects.

Flora and fauna[edit]

Brompton Cemetery with Kensington Canal by William Cowen

Although never envisaged as a park, JC Loudon devised the original planting scheme that was not fully realised, however, pines were imported from Poland with the prospect that in maturity they would cast shade over the graves.[28] There are over 60 species of trees, of which the limes are dated to 1838. The fact of the enclosure of the cemetery by a wall, has preserved almost intact, a distinct area of Victorian country flora. The adjacent West London line afforded a green corridor for many years, enriched by ballast from the South Downs when Counter's Creek was filled in and two railway lines constructed in mid-19th century, although a small wetland area was preserved by West Brompton station. However recent redevelopment along the station has further reduced local biodiversity and further reductions are planned with the major redevelopment of nearby Earls Court Exhibition Centre.[29]

In the cemetery each season brings its features, like snow-drops and bluebells or wild lupin and foxgloves, broad-leaf pea, ferns and horse tail. There are small scale wooded areas and meadows. Since the land was used for market gardens, there are wild cabbages, asparagus and garlic among the slabs. A grape vine has fallen victim to maintenance. In Autumn, there can be a display of fungi, a mycologist's trove. The evergreens and ivy are a haven for birds and countless insects. Over 200 species of moth and butterfly have been identified in the cemetery. Despite the absence of a permanent water feature, there have been sightings of amphibians, notably a toad. Mammals are represented by bats, a range of rodents, including grey squirrels and one or two families of foxes. Among the birds, there is a long-standing population of carrion crows and several garden species with the addition of green woodpeckers and occasionally, nesting kestrels and ring-necked parakeets. The appearance of a female ring-necked pheasant in 2012 was short-lived.[citation needed]

"Brompton Cemetery has been identified as a Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation (grade I) comprising moderately diverse grassland that contains at least three notable London species that support a diverse assemblage of invertebrates".[30]

Public access[edit]

The cemetery is open daily to the public throughout the year, with opening times varying with the seasons. It is regularly visited by the Parks Police Service to monitor and curb occurrences of anti-social behaviour. Dog walking and cycling, under strict control, is permitted on indicated paths. Through traffic is forbidden and there is no parking. Any visiting vehicles must observe a 5 mph limit. The byelaws are displayed on boards at both entrances. The Friends of Brompton Cemetery organise Open Days, regular tours and other public attractions.[31]

The cemetery has a reputation for being a popular cruising ground for gay men.[32]

Beatrix Potter connection[edit]

Nutkins gravestone

Beatrix Potter, who lived in Old Brompton Road nearby and enjoyed walking around it, may have taken the names of some of her characters from tombstones in the cemetery. Names of people buried there included Mr Nutkins, Mr McGregor, Mr Brock, Mr Tod, Jeremiah Fisher and even a Peter Rabbett, although it is not known for certain if there were tombstones with all these names.[33][34][35]

In film[edit]

Brompton Cemetery has featured in a number of films, including Sherlock Holmes (2009),[36] as the exterior of a Russian church in Goldeneye,[37] Stormbreaker,[38] Johnny English,[37] The Wings of the Dove, [38] Eastern Promises,[39] and The Gentlemen.[40]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Brompton Cemetery". BBC. 9 April 2008. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Brompton cemetery". National Archives. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  3. ^ "Brompton Cemetery receives £3.7m for restoration". BBC News. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Multi-million National Lottery-funded restoration unveils hidden secrets of spectacular London cemetery" (Press release). The Royal Parks. 7 July 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  5. ^ "Brompton Cemetery". The Royal Parks. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Sheppard, F.H.W., ed. (1983). "Brompton". Survey of London. Vol. 41. London: London City Council. pp. 246–252. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  7. ^ "Kensington and Chelsea Brompton Cemetery Conservation Area Proposals Statement" (PDF). Royal Borough Kensington and Chelsea. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  8. ^ Historic England (15 April 1969). "Anglican Chapel, Brompton Cemetery (1266241)". National Heritage List for England.
  9. ^ Historic England (15 April 1969). "Arcade forming south western quarter of circle and avenue (1266205)". National Heritage List for England.
  10. ^ Historic England (15 April 1969). "Arcade forming south east quarter of circle and avenue (1225714)". National Heritage List for England.
  11. ^ Historic England (15 April 1969). "Arcade forming north east quarter of circle and avenue (1266242)". National Heritage List for England.
  12. ^ Historic England (15 April 1969). "Arcade forming north west quarter of circle and avenue (1225713)". National Heritage List for England.
  13. ^ "Victorian discoveries at UK's 'most important' cemetery". The Royal Parks. 21 March 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  14. ^ Historic England, "Brompton Cemetery (1000248)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 10 February 2016
  15. ^ Leaflet entitled "Brompton Cemetery" issued by the Friends of Brompton Cemetery
  16. ^ "Conservation Area appraisal, Draft, Brompton Cemetery". RBKC. 2017. p. 57. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g Suchcitz, Andrzej (2021). A Polish Field in Central London: Poles Buried in Brompton Cemetery. Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales. ISBN 978-1739857004.
  18. ^ "Brompton Cemetery". Archived from the original on 8 January 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  19. ^ "Brompton Cemetery". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  20. ^ Atlay, James Beresford (1912). "Haliburton, Arthur Lawrence" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 186.
  21. ^ Walker, Dave (27 September 2012). "Wild, wild west: Buffalo Bill in Earls Court".
  22. ^ Balz, Dan (26 September 1997). "Chief Long Wolf's Last Journey". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  23. ^ "Chief Long Wolf goes home, 105 years late". CNN. 25 September 1997. Archived from the original on 19 April 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
  24. ^ Weaver, Maurice (5 May 1997). "Sioux reclaim tribal chief from English grave". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 26 September 2005. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
  25. ^ "Sioux mystery solved". Manchester Evening News. 3 October 2007. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  26. ^ "The Salford Sioux – Manchester's own native American community (Lancashire) Page 4 RootsChat.Com".
  27. ^ Prochy arcybiskupa Sawy powróciły do Polski Archived 17 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine (in Polish)
  28. ^ "Brompton Cemetery" (PDF). Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  29. ^ Archer, John; Keech, Daniel (1993). Nature Conservation in Hammersmith & Fulham – Ecology Handbook 25. London Ecology Unit. pp. 41–51. ISBN 1-871045-22-3.
  30. ^ "Conservation Area appraisal, Draft, Brompton Cemetery". RBKC. 2017. pp. 20–23. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  31. ^ "Home". The Friends of Brompton Cemetery.
  32. ^ "Go west, young man" (PDF). QX Magazine International. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  33. ^ Barden, Karen (3 August 2001). "Grave inspiration to Beatrix Potter". The Westmorland Gazette. Newsquest (North West) Ltd. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  34. ^ Baker, Erin (28 July 2001). "Beatrix Potter's cast list found on headstones". The Telegraph. London: Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  35. ^ Mason, M. (2013). Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground. London: Arrow Books. p. 174 ISBN 978-0099557937
  36. ^ "Brompton Cemetery: Sherlock Holmes (2009)". Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  37. ^ a b Smith, Oliver (4 October 2017). "The London filming locations you might not have known about". The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  38. ^ a b "Brompton Cemetery in film". The Royal Parks. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  39. ^ "Eastern Promises (2007) – Filming & Production". IMDB. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  40. ^ "'The Gentlemen' Shooting Location Details". The Cinemaholic. 22 January 2020. Retrieved 5 September 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Culbertson, Judi; Randall, Tom (1991). Permanent Londoners: An Illustrated Guide to the Cemeteries of London. Post Mills, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing Company.
  • Suchcitz, Andrzej (1992). Non omnis moriar: Polacy na londyńskim cmentarzu Brompton [Non omnis moriar: Poles buried in Brompton Cemetery, London] (in Polish). Poland: Oficyna Wydawnicza Audiutor. ISBN 978-8390008592. Digitized by the University of Michigan, 12 Oct 2007.
  • Meller, Hugh; Parsons, Brian (2008). London Cemeteries: an illustrated guide and gazetteer, The History Press. ISBN 978-0750946223
  • Beach, Darren (2008). London's Cemeteries. Metro Guides. ISBN 1902910230

External links[edit]