East Sheen Cemetery
East Sheen Cemetery and chapel
|Owned by||Richmond upon Thames London Borough Council|
|Size||16 acres (6.5 hectares)|
|East Sheen Cemetery Chapel|
Fulton Mackay's grave and the cemetery's chapel
|Founder(s)||Barnes Urban District Council|
|Designated||5 March 2015|
East Sheen Cemetery, originally known as Barnes Cemetery, is a cemetery on Sheen Road in East Sheen in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, England. The cemetery opened in 1906 on what was previously woodland in a rural area of Surrey. Originally, only half the site was given over for burials while the other half was maintained as a nursery before it was converted in the 1930s and the whole site was renamed East Sheen Cemetery. It is today contiguous with Richmond Cemetery, though the original boundary is marked by a hedge. The cemetery's chapel is used for services by both sites, as Richmond Cemetery's chapel is no longer in use as such. The chapel was built in 1906 in the Gothic revival style by local architect Reginald Rowell, who was himself later buried in the cemetery.
Many prominent people are buried in the cemetery, which contains several significant memorials. The most important monument in the cemetery is the memorial to George William Lancaster and his wife by Sydney March—a bronze sculpture of an angel weeping over a stone sarcophagus dating from the 1920s, which is considered to be one of the most important sculptures of its type from the 20th century. Also significant are the memorial to Markham Buxton, a bronze relief on a stone stele by his son Alfred; a miniature walled garden commemorating Edouard Espinosa and his wife Eve Louise Kelland; and several other sculptures, both Christian-themed and secular. The cemetery also contains over 70 war graves, cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
History and setting
The cemetery, which is on a 16-acre (6.5-hectare) site, was first opened as Barnes Cemetery in 1905 or 1906, prior to which the area was woodland. The land in the area was historically owned by King George III. Only the northern half of the site was originally for burials, with the southern half used as a nursery. The southern area was converted into a cemetery in the 1930s and the whole site was renamed East Sheen Cemetery.
It was originally administered by the Municipal Borough of Barnes, with the adjacent Richmond Cemetery being administered by the Municipal Borough of Richmond (Surrey). Since 1965, when both boroughs joined the Municipal Borough of Twickenham to form the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, the two cemeteries have been administered by Richmond upon Thames London Borough Council. The entrance to the cemetery is set back from the road along an avenue flanked by trees and behind a pair of brick gate piers; an entrance described at resembling the entrance to a country house. An air-raid shelter was built near the entrance during the Second World War. Although East Sheen and Richmond cemeteries are today contiguous, the original boundary is still clearly visible and is marked by a holly hedge.
The cemetery contains a chapel, which is used for services by both East Sheen and Richmond cemeteries, as the latter's is no longer in use; the chapel is available for people of all faiths and beliefs. It was designed by Reginald Rowell, a local architect who was buried in the cemetery upon his death. The chapel, which is listed Grade II by Historic England, was constructed in 1906, but was designed in the 13th-century Gothic style with a slender flèche.
East Sheen Cemetery contains several particularly noticeable memorials, the best-known of which is the Lancaster Memorial, dedicated to George William Lancaster and his wife Elisa Mary Lancaster who died in 1920 and 1922 respectively. Originally from the north of England, the Lancasters were industrialists who made their fortune in coal mining. The memorial is described by historian Hugh Meller as "arguably the most dramatic sculpture in any of London's cemeteries", eclipsing all other monuments in the cemetery. The Lancaster Memorial was designated a grade II* listed building in 1992, and according to Historic England is "considered one of the most significant 20th-century examples of funerary sculpture". It consists of a bronze sculpture of an angel mourning over a rectangular sarcophagus, which rests on a coved base and a rectangular plinth, all of which are constructed of Portland stone. The fluidity of the figure and the drooping of the angel's wings over the sarcophagus are singled out by Historic England as particularly memorable features. The angel was sculpted by Sydney March, who was later renowned for the National War Memorial of Canada—also consisting of bronze and stone sculpture. The work is thought to be inspired by funerary sculptures by Leonardo Bistolfi in northern Italy.
Also listed (at grade II) is the memorial to Markham Buxton (1852–1927), a bronze relief on a stone stele; the memorial was built by Buxton's son, Alfred Buxton, a sculptor who exhibited at the Royal Academy. The stele is of granite construction, topped with five antefixae and standing on a granite base, which bears an inscription. The relief features a woman in classical dress playing a lyre; it is inscribed with the verse "OUR SWEETEST SONGS ARE THOSE WHICH TELL OF SADDEST THOUGHTS". Alfred exhibited a relief by the name of "Chanson Triste" at the Royal Academy in 1927, which is likely to be the same work that features on his father's grave.
Other significant memorials in the cemetery include a marble sculpture of a soldier commemorating William Rennie O'Mahony (d. 1928), a silver-painted wooden dolphin,a glass circular disc memorial and a sculpture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and three lambs, and a mosaic of St Francis and Mary Magdalene on an illegible headstone.
Secular memorials include a carving of an aircraft on the grave of Royal Air Force Pilot Officer Denis Power (d. 1931), a maritime-themed memorial on the Hervey grave (1917), and a miniature walled garden commemorating Louise Espinosa and her husband Edouard.
The cemetery contains a war memorial to 79 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the two world wars, 71 of whom have individual headstones—33 from the First World War and 38 from the Second World War. The graves are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Notable people buried in East Sheen Cemetery include:
- Clementina Black (1853–1922), writer, feminist and pioneering trade unionist
- Stephen Andrew Boyd, associate editor of The Sunday Times and compiler of the Sunday Times Rich List
- William Gilbert Chaloner, palaeobotanist
- Robert Chalmers, 1st Baron Chalmers, civil servant
- Sir O'Moore Creagh, general and Victoria Cross recipient
- Sir Miles de Montmorency, painter and art historian
- Arthur Donaldson, fighter pilot
- Edouard Espinosa and Eve Louise Kelland, founders of the British Ballet Organization
- Roy Kinnear, actor
- Fulton Mackay, actor
- Sheila Manahan, actress
- Sir Alec Martin, businessman
- Sir John Martin-Harvey, actor
- Sir Ralph Moor, diplomat
- Sir Benjamin Morgan, engineer and economist
- William Officer, major general and army doctor
- Hamilton Reed, major general and VC recipient
- William Ellsworth Robinson (stage name Chung Ling Soo), magician
- Douglas Scott, major general and engineer
- Sir Michael Tighe, lieutenant-general
- Ian Walters, sculptor
- Sir Frederick Wigan, High Sheriff of Surrey
The cemetery also has a grave containing remains of victims of the 2002 Bali bombings.
- "East Sheen Cemetery". London Gardens Online. London Parks & Gardens Trust. 1 June 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- Meller, Hugh; Parsons, Brian (2013). London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer (fourth ed.). Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press. ISBN 9780752496900.
- Historic England (5 March 2015). "Cemetery Chapel (/1420524)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
- "East Sheen Cemetery". Richmond upon Thames London Borough Council. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- Cherry, Bridget; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1983). The Buildings of England – London 2: South. London: Penguin Books. p. 471. ISBN 9780300096514.
- Historic England (5 March 1992). "The Lancaster Monument, East Sheen Cemetery (1239967)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
- Historic England (5 March 1992). "The Buxton Monument, East Sheen Cemetery (1261261)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
- "East Sheen Cemetery". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- "People of historical note buried in the borough A to L". London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
- "Clementina Black". Famous Graves. 12 October 2015. Archived from the original on 22 June 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
- "2008 Rich List Credits".
- "Deaths – Chaloner". The Daily Telegraph. October 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
- "People of historical note buried in the borough M to Z". London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. 26 November 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
- "Hamilton Lyster Reed". Victoria Cross holders buried in the borough. Local Studies Library, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames . 18 April 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2020.