|Size||39 acres (16 ha)|
|No. of graves||35,000+|
|No. of interments||205,000|
Brompton Cemetery is a London cemetery in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is managed by The Royal Parks, and is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries. Established by Act of Parliament and erected in 1839, it opened in 1840 and was originally known as the West of London and Westminster Cemetery.
Consecrated by Charles James Blomfield, the 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 the resting place of more than 205,000 burials. The site includes large plots for family mausolea, and common graves where coffins are piled deep into the earth, as well as a small columbarium. There is also a secluded Garden of Remembrance at the northern end, for cremated remains. It is also an urban haven for nature. It has been awarded a National Lottery grant to carry out essential restoration and develop a visitor centre among other improvements.
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.
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 engineer, Stephen Geary, and it was necessary to form a company in order to get parliamentary permission to raise capital for the purpose. 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. 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, having been bought with the intervention of John Gunter of Fulham, was 39 acres (160,000 m2) in area. Brompton Cemetery was eventually designed by architect, Benjamin Baud with at its centre a modest domed chapel dated 1839, in the style of the basilica of St. Peter's in Rome at it southern end, reached by long colonnades, and flanked by catacombs. 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.
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.
During World War II the cemetery suffered bomb damage.
The cemetery is listed Grade I in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England and five of the individual monuments are listed as Grade II. Frederick Richards Leyland's is the only Grade II* listed funerary monument.
Brompton was closed to burials between 1952 and 1966, except for family interments, but is once again a working cemetery, with plots for interments and a 'Garden of Remembrance' for the deposit of cremated remains. Many nationalities and faiths from across the world are represented in the Cemetery.
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. 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 Czekoslovak, Polish and Russian military burials.
- Alexander Anderson – Royal Marines general
- Tomasz Arciszewski – Polish socialist politician
- Sir Frederick Arthur – army officer
- James Atkinson – surgeon, artist and Persian scholar
- William Edward Ayrton – physicist
- Sir Squire Bancroft – actor and theatre impresario
- Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh – Russian Orthodox émigré Metropolitan archbishop, medical doctor and author
- Joseph Bonomi the Younger – sculptor, artist, Egyptologist and museum curator
- George Borrow – author, traveller and linguist
- Peter Borthwick – politician
- Sir Leslie Brass – lawyer and civil servant
- Fanny Brawne – John Keats' muse, buried under her married name, Frances Lindon
- Stanley Brett – actor
- Sir James Browne – engineer
- Francis Trevelyan Buckland – zoologist
- Field Marshal John Fox Burgoyne and his son, Hugh Burgoyne RN – Victoria Cross recipient
- Henry James Byron – actor and dramatist
- General William Martin Cafe – Indian Mutiny hero and VC recipient
- Sir William Wellington Cairns – Australian administrator after whom the city of Cairns is named
- Sir Duncan Cameron – British Army general
- Louis Campbell-Johnston (1861–1929) – founder of the British Humane Association
- Marchesa Luisa Casati – infamous Italian quaintrelle, muse, eccentric and patron of the arts
- John Graham Chambers – founder of the Amateur Athletic Association
- Hugh Childers – Liberal statesman
- Charles Coborn – music hall singer and comedian
- Henry Cole – founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal College of Music, the 1851 Great Exhibition and inventor of the Christmas card
- Robert Collier, 1st Baron Monkswell – Lord Monkswell, Privy Councillor, Attorney General for England and Wales, QC, politician and judge and his wife Isabella Rose
- Robert Coombes – champion professional sculler
- Joseph Thomas Clover – pioneer of anaesthesia
- Hiram Codd – inventor of the Codd bottle
- Thomas Crofton Croker – Irish antiquary, devoted to the collection of Irish poetry and folklore
- William Crookes – chemist and physicist
- Samuel Cunard – founder of the Cunard Line
- Thomas Cundy III – architect
- Agnes de Selincourt - missionary and academic
- Sir James Bevan Edwards – army officer
- General Sir William Henry Elliott – army officer
- Corporal Joseph John Farmer – VC recipient
- Nellie Farren – stage actress
- Henry Farrer – artist
- Terence Feely – playwright and author
- Captain Alfred Kirke Ffrench – VC recipient of Indian Mutiny
- Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Craufurd Fraser – VC recipient
- Admiral Charles Fremantle – explorer, founded the Swan River Colony (Western Australia) and the city of Fremantle which bears his name
- Walter Forbes, 18th Lord Forbes
- Robert Fortune – botanist who introduced tea plant from China to India
- Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet – railway engineer
- Tom Foy – comedian
- Princes George and Emanuel Galitzine – film producer and Spitfire pilot
- Brian Glover (1934–1997) – television and film actor
- John William Godward – painter
- George Godwin – architect, journalist, and editor of The Builder magazine
- George Goldie – "founded" Nigeria
- Dr Benjamin Golding – founder of Charing Cross Hospital
- John Gunter – landowner, secured the south entrance to the cemetery
- Field Marshall Frederick Haines
- Corporal Thomas Hancock – VC recipient (unmarked grave)
- Sir Augustus Harris – actor
- John Harrison – Royal Navy VC recipient
- Thomas Helmore – choirmaster and author of books on plainsong
- Admiral Algernon Heneage
- Tim Hetherington – photojournalist
- Rowley Hill – Bishop of Sodor
- Sir Harold Hood, 2nd Baronet
- Colonel William Hope – VC recipient
- Jean Ingelow – poet and novelist
- John Jackson – boxer
- Geraldine Jewsbury – writer
- Michał Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski – founder of a Polish resistance unit in WWII and war hero
- Mary Anne Keeley – actress
- Robert Keeley – actor and comedian
- William Claude Kirby – first chairman of Chelsea Football Club
- Dr. Antoni Kutek – wartime medical officer of the MS Batory
- Constant Lambert – composer and conductor
- Kit Lambert – music producer and original manager of The Who
- Percy E. Lambert – racing car driver
- Nat Langham – middleweight bare-knuckle fighter
- John Leslie-Melville, 9th Earl of Leven
- Frederick Richards Leyland – shipowner and art collector
- Bernard Levin – journalist, author and broadcaster
- Sir John Scott Lillie – Peninsular War veteran, local landowner, inventor and social reformer
- Ralph Robert Wheeler Lingen, 1st Baron Lingen (1819–1905)
- Johann Carl Ludwig Loeffler – manager of Siemens Brothers
- Marie Lohr – actress
- Archibald Low – inventor and author of science books
- David Lyon MP
- Wiktor Łomidze – Georgian-Polish Naval officer
- James McDonald – president of the Anglo-American Oil Company
- Henry McGee (1929–2006) – actor
- John Benjamin Macneill – railway engineer
- General Sir Frederick Francis Maude – VC recipient
- Henry Augustus Mears – founder of Chelsea Football Club
- Boyd Merriman, 1st Baron Merriman (1880–1962)
- Lionel Monckton – composer of Edwardian musical comedies
- Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh Montgomery – Royal Marines and intelligence officer, one of the IRA-assassinated Cairo Gang
- Henrietta Moraes – writer, artist's model and muse to Francis Bacon
- Roderick Murchison – geologist, originator of the Silurian system
- Adelaide Neilson – actress
- William Gustavus Nicholson, 1st Baron Nicholson – first Chief of the Imperial General Staff
- Count Stanisław Julian Ostroróg – Crimean War veteran, photographer
- Eugène Oudin – American baritone
- Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan – Anglo-Irish writer
- Sir William Palliser – inventor and builder of Barons Court
- Emmeline Pankhurst – leading suffragette
- Private Samuel Parkes – VC recipient
- Mrs Howard Paul – actress and singer
- Charles Henry Pearson and his brother Sir John Pearson
- Sir John Lysaght Pennefather – general
- Henry Pettitt – actor, a noteworthy monument with a sculpted head of Pettitt
- Percy Sinclair Pilcher – inventor and pioneering aviator
- Valentine Cameron Prinsep – Pre-Raphaelite painter
- Sir Robert Rawlinson – military officer
- William Henry Macleod Read – political and social activist and merchant
- Fanny Ronalds – American socialite and singer
- William Michael Rooke – Irish composer
- Blanche Roosevelt – American opera singer and author
- Tim Rose – American singer-songwriter
- Alexander Rotinoff – architect
- William Howard Russell – journalist and war correspondent
- Sir Doyle Money Shaw – naval officer
- William Siborne – Army officer and military historian, maker of the Siborne model
- Felicjan Slawoj Skladkowski – prime minister of Poland
- Samuel Smiles – biographer and inventor of "self-help"
- Albert Richard Smith – writer
- John Snow – anaesthetist and epidemiologist, who demonstrated the link between cholera and infected water
- Farren Soutar – musical comedy actor
- Lord Alan Spencer-Churchill - officer 8th Hussars
- General The Hon. Sir Augustus Almeric Spencer GCB - officer
- H.F. Stephens – light railway pioneer
- Robert Story – poet
- Fred Sullivan, Thomas Sullivan and Mary Clementina Sullivan – brother, father and mother of Arthur Sullivan, composer
- Jerzy Swirski – vice-admiral and head of the Polish navy, 1925–1947
- Richard Tauber – operatic tenor
- Sir David Tennant – Speaker of the Cape Parliament.
- William Terriss - actor
- Ernest Thesiger – character actor, The Old Dark House and Bride of Frankenstein
- Frederic Thesiger, 1st Baron Chelmsford – jurist and statesman
- Frederic Augustus Thesiger, 2nd Baron Chelmsford – Commander-in-Chief in the Zulu War
- John Evan Thomas – sculptor
- Brandon Thomas – author of Charley's Aunt
- Stefan Tyszkiewicz – engineer, inventor, car manufacturer, political activist
- Charles Blacker Vignoles – railway engineer, and inventor of the Vignoles rail
- Colonel Richard Wadeson – VC recipient
- Edward Wadsworth – artist
- Thomas Attwood Walmisley – composer and organist.
- Sir Robert Warburton – Anglo-Indian soldier and administrator
- Jane Wardle - clinical psychologist and prioneer of cancer prevention
- Flight Sub Lieutenant Reginald Alexander John Warneford – VC recipient
- Sir Philip Watts – naval architect, designer of the Elswick cruiser and HMS Dreadnought
- Sir Andrew Scott Waugh – army officer and surveyor, who named the highest mountain in the world after Sir George Everest
- Benjamin Nottingham Webster – actor, theatre manager and playwright
- Sir Thomas Spencer Wells – surgeon to Queen Victoria, medical professor and president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
- Private Francis Wheatley – VC recipient
- Jack Whitley – professional footballer
- Sir William Fenwick Williams – general, pasha and governor
- John Wisden – cricketer and founder of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
- Bennet Woodcroft – textile manufacturer, industrial archaeologist, pioneer of marine propulsion, patent reformer and first clerk to the Patent Commissioners
- Thomas Wright – antiquarian and writer
- Johannes Zukertort aka Jan Hermann Zukertort – Polish-Jewish chess master
In the late 1880s when the nearby Earl's Court Exhibition Grounds played host to the American Show with Buffalo Bill, a number of First Nations American performers in the show, died while on tour in Britain. 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. 105 years later a British woman named Elizabeth Knight traced his family and campaigned with them to have his remains returned to the land of his birth. In 1997, Chief Long Wolf was finally moved to a new plot in the Wolf Creek Cemetery (ancestral burial ground of the Oglala Sioux tribe) at 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."
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. 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 eighteen-month-old son, Red Penny who travelled in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show is also buried here. The resting places of both Surrounded and Red Penny remain a mystery.
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
Although never envisaged as a park, JC Loudon devised the original planting scheme that was not fully realised. 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. Each season brings its features, like snow-drops and bluebells or wild lupin, broad-leaf pea and ferns. 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. 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. Mammals are represented by bats, a range of rodents, including grey squirrels and several families of foxes. Among the birds, there are many garden species with the addition of green woodpeckers and occasionally, kestrels. The macaws are only visitors.
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 Bye laws are displayed on boards at both entrances. The Friends of Brompton Cemetery organise Open Days, regular tours and other public attractions.
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. Beatrix Potter, who lived in Old Brompton Road nearby, 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 these names.
Monument to John Snow
The lion on the grave of "Gentleman" John Jackson
Monument to Robert Coombes (on the right, now sadly defaced)
Chelsea Pensioners' Memorial
Middlesex, detail of Fulham c.1860
- Magnificent Seven cemeteries
- Funerary art
- London Cemetery and Extension
- Victorian cemetery
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
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