Kensal Green Cemetery
|Location||385 Ladbroke Grove, Kensington, Greater London NW10 5JX Kensal Green, London|
|Size||72 acres (29 ha)|
|Number of graves||65,000+|
|Number of interments||250,000|
Kensal Green Cemetery is a cemetery in Kensal Green, in the west of London, England, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Inspired by the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and founded by the barrister George Frederick Carden, Kensal Green Cemetery was opened in 1833 and comprises 72 acres of grounds, including two conservation areas, adjoining a canal. Kensal Green Cemetery is home to at least 33 species of bird and other wildlife. This distinctive cemetery has a host of different of memorials ranging from large mausoleums housing the rich and famous to many distinctive smaller graves and even includes special areas dedicated to the very young. With three chapels catering for people of all faiths and social standing, the General Cemetery Company has provided a haven in the heart of London for 180 years for its inhabitants to remember their loved one in a tranquil and dignified environment. It was immortalised in the lines of G. K. Chesterton's poem The Rolling English Road from his book The Flying Inn: "For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen; Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green."
The cemetery is located in the London Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and its main entrance is located on Harrow Road (near to the junction with Ladbroke Grove and Chamberlayne Road). The cemetery can also be entered through the West Gate (near the junction with Greyhound Road), which is also the entrance to the West London Crematorium (owned and operated by the same company that owns and operates Kensal Green Cemetery) and St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, which are in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The cemetery lies between Harrow Road and the Grand Union Canal.
History and description
Establishment and design
George Frederick Carden had failed with an earlier attempt to establish a British equivalent to Paris's Père Lachaise Cemetery in 1825, but a new committee established in February 1830, including Andrew Spottiswoode, MP for Saltash, sculptor Robert William Sievier, banker Sir John Dean Paul, Charles Broughton Bowman (first committee secretary), and architects Thomas Willson (who had previously proposed an ambitious Metropolitan Sepulchre project) and Augustus Charles Pugin, gained more financial, political and public support to fund the 'General Cemetery Company'. Public meetings were held in June and July 1830 at the Freemasons' Tavern, and Carden was elected treasurer.
Paul, a partner in the London banking firm of Strahan, Paul, Paul and Bates, found and conditionally purchased the 54 acres of land at Kensal Green for £9,500. However, Paul and Carden were already embroiled in a dispute regarding the design of the cemetery, where Paul favoured the Grecian style and Carden the Gothic style. A succession of architects were contemplated, including Benjamin Wyatt (who declined), Charles Fowler (proposal not taken up), Francis Goodwin, Willson, and a Mr Lidell, a pupil of John Nash, before an architectural competition was launched in November 1831. This attracted 46 entrants, and in March 1832 the premium was awarded, despite some opposition, for a Gothic Revival design by Henry Edward Kendall; this decision was, however, eventually overturned.
On 11 July 1832, the Act of Parliament establishing a 'General Cemetery Company for the interment of the Dead in the Neighbourhood of the Metropolis' gained Royal Assent. The Act authorised it to raise up to £45,000 in shares, buy up to 80 acres of land and build a cemetery and a Church of England chapel. Company directors appointed after the Bill received Royal Assent asserted their control and preference for a different style. One of the competition judges and a company shareholder, John William Griffith, who had previously produced working drawings for a boundary wall, ultimately designed the cemetery's two chapels and the main gateway. Founded as the General Cemetery of All Souls, Kensal Green, the cemetery was the first of the 'Magnificent Seven' garden-style cemeteries in London. Kensal Green Cemetery was consecrated on 24 January 1833 by the Bishop of London, receiving its first funeral the same month.
The Church of England was allotted 39 acres and the remaining 15, clearly separated, were given over to Dissenters, a distinction deemed crucial at the time. Originally there was a division between the Dissenters’ part of the cemetery and the Anglican section. This took the form of a ‘sunk fence’ from the canal to the gate piers on the path. There were also decorative iron gates. The small area designated for non-Anglican burials is approximately oval in shape and was formerly made prominent by a wider central axis path that terminated with the neo-classical chapel with curved colonnades. The Anglican Chapel dominates the western section of the cemetery, being raised on a terrace beneath which is an extensive catacomb; there is a hydraulic catafalque for lowering coffins into the catacomb.
It is still in operation today; burials and cremations take place daily, although cremations are now more common than interments. Kensal Green Cemetery is still run by the General Cemetery Company under its original Act of Parliament. This mandates that bodies there may not be exhumed and cremated or the land sold for development. Once the cemetery has exhausted all its interment space and can no longer function as a cemetery, the mandate requires that it shall remain a memorial park. The General Cemetery Company constructed and runs the West London Crematorium within the grounds of Kensal Green Cemetery.
While borrowing from the ideals established at Père Lachaise some years before, Kensal Green Cemetery contributed to the design and management basis for many cemetery projects throughout the British Empire of the time. In Australia, for example, the Necropolis at Rookwood (1868) and Waverley Cemetery (1877), both in Sydney, are noted for their use of the "gardenesque" landscape qualities and importantly self-sustaining management structures championed by the General Cemetery Company.
The cemetery is the burial site of approximately 250,000 individuals in 65,000 graves, including upwards of 500 members of the British nobility and 550 people listed in the Dictionary of National Biography. Many monuments, particularly the larger ones, lean precariously as they have settled over time on the underlying London clay.
Many buildings and structures within Kensal Green are listed.
The Anglican Chapel is listed grade I, while the non-conformist Mortuary Chapel, colonnade/catacomb and perimeter walls and railings are listed grade II or II*. Of the many tombs, memorials and mausoleums, eight are listed grade II*, while The Reformers' Memorial is listed grade II.
The Anglican Chapel
The Anglican Chapel is at the centre of the cemetery, and contains several tombs. Under the chapel is a catacomb, one of the few in London. The catacomb is currently not maintained but can be visited as part of a guided tour. It still has a working coffin-lift or catafalque, restored by the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery in 1997.
The Reformers' Memorial
The Reformers' Memorial was erected in 1885. It was erected at the instigation of Joseph Corfield 'to the memory of men and women who have generously given their time and means to improve the conditions and enlarge the happiness of all classes of society'. Lists of names of reformers and radicals on north and east sides (together with further names added in 1907 by Emma Corfield). A pair to the Robert Owen memorial, and a second instance of a non-funerary memorial in the cemetery's Non-Conformist section.
The following is copied from Dr Tony Shaw's website, http://tonyshaw3.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/cenotaph-to-robert-owen-who-was-buried.html where a number of photographs are available:
'THIS MEMORIAL IS RAISED AS A TOKEN OF REGARD TO THE BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN WHOSE NAMES IT BEARS BY JOSEPH W. CORFIELD, AUGUST 1895.'
'THE REFORMERS' MEMORIAL
ERECTED TO THE GLORY OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE GENEROUSLY GIVEN THEIR TIME AND MEANS TO IMPROVE THE CONDITIONS AND ENHANCE THE HAPPINESS OF ALL CLASSES OF SOCIETY. THEY HAVE FELT THAT A FAR HAPPIER AND MORE PROSPEROUS LIFE IS WITHIN THE REACH OF ALL MEN, AND THEY HAVE EARNESTLY SOUGHT TO REALIZE IT. THE OLD BRUTAL LAWS OF IMPRISONMENT FOR FREE PRINTING HAVE BEEN SWEPT AWAY AND THE RIGHT OF SELECTING OUR OWN LAW MAKERS HAS BEEN GAINED MAINLY BY THEIR EFFORTS. THE EXERCISE OF THESE RIGHTS WILL GIVE THE PEOPLE AN INTEREST IN THE LAWS THAT GOVERN THEM, AND WILL MAKE THEM BETTER MEN AND BETTER CITIZENS.'
A great number of people are mentioned on the monument, and among them are:
Robert Owen (New Lanark), John Bellars, Robert Dale Owen, Abraham Combe, Joseph Lancaster, William Thompson, John Minter Morgan, William Pare, William Galpin, Henry Travis, MD, Alex Campbell, James Rigby, W. D. Saull, Julian Hibbert, Rev. Charles Kingsley, Lady Noel Byron, Francis Wright, Thomas Spence, Allan Davenport, Mary Hennell, Francis Place, Harriet Martineau, George Odger, Elizabeth Fry, Sarah Martin, Mary Carpenter, Benjamin Flower, Henry Fawcett, Barbara Bodichon, Maria Grey, Arnold Toynbee, W. K. Clifford, Edward T. Craig, C. Dobson Collet, Charles Bradlaugh, Richard Congreve, William Morris, John Ruskin, F. Power Cobbe, Herbert Spencer, Hodgson Pratt, Francis Newman, Lydia Becker, Josephine Butler, Anna Swanwick, C. Jacob Holyoake, J. Kells Ingram, Joseph Priestley, Thomas Paine, William Hone, John Stuart Mill, Major Cartwright, Richard Carlile, William Lovett, William Carpenter, John Frost, William Cobbett, W. J. Fox, Richard Moore, William Howitt, Samuel Bamford, Henry Hunt, George Thompson, David Williams, Thomas Wooller, Ebenezer Elliott, Ernest Jones, Alex Macdonald, Richard Cobden, Robert Cooper.
The entry for Robert Owen reads:
The cenotaph to Robert Owen, who was buried in Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales, is fittingly at the side of the Reformers' Memorial.
'ROBERT OWEN PHILANTHROPIST BORN MAY 14TH. 1771. DIED NOVR. 17TH. 1858.'
'1879 ERECTED BY SUBSCRIPTION IN MEMORY OF ROBERT OWEN OF NEW LANARK, BORN AT NEWTOWN, N. WALES 1771. HE DIED AND WAS BURIED AT THE SAME PLACE 1858, AGED 87 YEARS. ––––––––––––– HE ORIGINATED AND ORGANIZED INFANT SCHOOLS, HE SECURED A REDUCTION OF THE HOURS OF LABOUR FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN FACTORIES. HE WAS A LIBERAL SUPPORTER OF THE EARLY EFFORTS IN FAVOUR OF NATIONAL EDUCATION AND LABOURED TO PROMOTE INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION. HE WAS ONE OF THE FOREMOST ENGLISHMEN WHO TAUGHT MEN TO ASPIRE TO A HIGHER SOCIAL STATE BY RECONCILING THE INTERESTS OF CAPITAL AND LABOUR. HE SPENT HIS LIFE AND A LARGE FORTUNE IN SEEKING TO IMPROVE HIS FELLOW MEN BY GIVING THEM EDUCATION, SELF-RELIANCE AND MORE WORTH.
HIS LIFE WAS SANCTIFIED BY HUMAN AFFECTION AND LOFTY EFFORT. J. W.CORFIELD'
'MR. OWEN'S WRITINGS. ––––––––––––––––– REPORT TO THE COUNTY OF LANARK. NEW VIEWS OF SOCIETY. TWELVE LECTURES. LECTURES ON MARRIAGE. LECTURES ON A NEW STATE OF SOCIETY. THE BOOK OF THE NEW MORAL WORLD. SIX LECTURES AT MANCHESTER. MANIFESTO OF ROBERT OWEN. SELF SUPPORITNG HOME COLONIES. LETTERS TO THE HUMAN RACE. REVOLUTION IN MIND AND PRACTICE. ROBERT OWEN'S JOURNAL. LIFE OF ROBERT OWEN.'
Kensal Green Cemetery is distinguished by three catacombs for the deposit of lead-sealed, triple-shelled coffins and cremated remains. Catacomb A, beneath the North Terrace Colonnade is now sealed. Catacomb Z, beneath the Dissenters' Chapel at the eastern end of the cemetery, suffered significant bomb damage during World War II, and is also closed to further deposits. Catacomb B, beneath the Anglican Chapel in the centre of the cemetery, has space for some 4000 deposits, and still offers both private loculi and shelves or vaults for family groups. The catacomb extends under the entire footprint of the chapel and its colonnades. There are six aisles, within which each vault is also numbered, running consecutively to number 216 at the south-western end of aisle 6.
Interment within the catacombs of Kensal Green has always been more expensive and prestigious than burial in a simple plot in the grounds of the cemetery, although less costly than a brick-lined grave or mausoleum. Without the further expense and responsibility of a monument above the grave, the catacombs have afforded a secure, dignified and exclusive resting place for the well-to-do, particularly the unmarried, the childless and young children of those without family plots or mausolea elsewhere.
The cemetery contains the graves of 473 Commonwealth service personnel of the First World War - half of whom form a war graves plot in the south-west corner, the remainder in small groups or individual graves scattered throughout the grounds - and 51 of the Second who are all dispersed. In the First World War plot, at Section 213, a Screen Wall memorial lists casualties of both world wars whose graves could not be marked by headstones, besides 5 servicemen who were cremated at Kensal Green Crematorium. The highest ranking person commemorated by the CWGC to be buried here is General Sir Charles Douglas (1850-1914), Chief of the Imperial General Staff at outbreak of the First World War.
- Henry Ainley (1879–1945), actor
- Harrison Ainsworth (1805–1882), author
- Thomas Allom (1804–1872), artist and architect
- Frederick Scott Archer (1813–1857), sculptor, photographer. Inventor of the Collodion process.
- Charles Phillip Brown (1798-1884), an Englishman known for writing the first Telugu dictionary and for his contributions towards Telugu language and Andhra people.
- George Percy Badger (1815–1888), English Anglican missionary and scholar of oriental studies
- Michael William Balfe (1808–1870), composer
- Sir John Barbirolli (1899-1970), conductor
- Frederick Settle Barff (1822-1866), chemist, inventor of Bower–Barff process
- James Barry (1795–1865), surgeon
- George Birkbeck (1776–1841), doctor, academic and adult education pioneer
- Julius Benedict (1804–1885), composer
- Charles Blondin (1824–1897), acrobat, tightrope-walker
- Sir George Ferguson Bowen (1821–1899), colonial administrator and 9th Governor of Hong Kong
- Lady Diamantina Bowen (c. 1832/1833–1893), grand dame
- John Braham (1774–1856), singer
- George Bridgetower (1782–1860), West Indian-Polish violin virtuoso and friend of Beethoven
- Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais (1795–1840), chess master
- Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806–1859), engineer, son of Marc Isambard Brunel and Sophia Kingdom (also buried here)
- Marc Isambard Brunel (1769–1849), engineer, father of Isambard
- Sir Augustus Wall Callcott (1779–1844), painter
- Lady Maria Callcott (1785–1842), travel writer
- George Frederick Carden (1798-1874), founder of the cemetery
- John Edward Carew (1785–1868), sculptor
- Anthony Carlisle (1768–1840), surgeon and scientist
- Sir Ernest Cassel (1852–1921), merchant banker
- Marigold Frances Churchill, daughter of Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Clementine, who died from a fever in 1921 at age three (the monument by Eric Gill was listed Grade II in 2001)
- Thomas John Cochrane (Sir) (1789-1872) Cemetery plot number 21777, 1st governor of Newfoundland 1825-1834,Member of Parliament for Ipswich 1839-1841, Admiral of the fleet 1865-1872.
- Wilkie Collins (1824–1889), author
- Montague Corry, 1st Baron Rowton (1838-1903), secretary to Disraeli and philanthropic founder of Rowton Houses.
- James Dark (1795–1871), proprietor of Lord's Cricket Ground
- Philmore 'Boots' Davidson (1928-1993) Trinidadian musician and introducer of the steel band to Britain
- Andrew Ducrow (1793–1842), circus performer and horse-rider
- Willie Edouin (1841–1908), comedian, actor and theatre manager
- Sir George Elliot (1784–1863), naval officer
- Edward Francis Fitzwilliam (1824–1857), composer
- Fanny Fitzwilliam (1801–1854), actress, singer and theatre manager
- Henri Jean-Baptiste Victoire Fradelle (1778–1865), Franco-English Victorian painter
- Erich Fried (1921–1988), Austrian poet and essayist
- Henry Gauntlett (1810-1876), composer
- Philip Hardwick (1792–1870), architect
- Philip Charles Hardwick (1822–1892), architect
- Catherine Hayes (1818–1861), opera singer
- Thomas Hood (1799–1845), poet, humorist and journalist
- Sir Neville Howse (1863–1930), the first Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross and one of 13 holders of the same award who are buried in this cemetery
- James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784–1859), Romantic critic, essayist and poet
- Charles Kemble (1775–1854), actor and theatre manager
- Fanny Kemble (1809–1893), famous British actress and author
- Halina Korn (1902–1978), Polish painter and sculptor
- Marian Kukiel, (1885–1972) Polish General and Minister for War in exile during World War II
- William Garrett Lewis (b. before 1834; d. 1885) pastor of Westbourne Grove Church
- John Claudius Loudon, (1783 – 1843), Scottish botanist and writer on cemeteries
- John Graham Lough (1789–1876), sculptor
- Alexander McDonnell (1798–1835), chess master
- Richard Graves MacDonnell (1814–1881), colonial administrator and 6th Governor of Hong Kong
- William Macready (1793–1873), actor
- Edward Maltby, bishop of Durham
- Florence Marryat (1833-1899), novelist, editor, actress and playwright
- Kitty Melrose (1883–1912), actress
- Ras Andargachew Messai (1902–1981), Ethiopian ruler
- John Maddison Morton (1811–1891), playwright
- John Lothrop Motley (1814–1877), American historian
- John Trivett Nettleship (1841–1902), painter and author
- Robert Owen (cenotaph only) (1771–1858), industrialist and major social reformer
- John Thomas Perceval (1803–1876), army officer, writer and campaigner
- Jacob Perkins (1766–1849), American inventor
- Harold Pinter (1930–2008), playwright, actor, director, screenwriter, poet and political activist
- Steve Peregrin Took (1949–1980), English musician and songwriter (best known as a founder member of Tyrannosaurus Rex)
- Frederic Hervey Foster Quin (1799–1878), physician
- Sir Terence Rattigan (1911–1977), playwright
- Emil Reich (1854–1910), Austro-Hungarian-born historian
- John Wigham Richardson (1837–1908), shipbuilder
- Henry Sandham (1842–1910), artist
- Byam Shaw (1872–1919), artist
- John Shaw, Jr. (1803–1870), architect and brother-in-law of Philip Hardwick listed above
- Sir William Siemens (1823–1883), industrialist
- Robert William Sievier (1794–1865), sculptor (also member of Cemetery board)
- John Mark Frederick Smith (1790–1874), British Army general
- William Henry Smith (1792–1865), businessman
- John McDouall Stuart (1815–1866), explorer in Australia
- Dwarkanath Tagore (1794–1846), Bengali industrialist and benefactor
- William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863), writer
- Bert Thomas (1883–1966), cartoonist
- Lydia Thompson (1838–1908), dancer and actress
- Thérèse Tietjens (1831–1877), opera singer
- Anthony Trollope (1815–1882), novelist
- Sir Thomas Troubridge, 3rd Baronet (1815–1867), British army officer
- J. Stuart Russell (1816–1895), theologian and author
- James Malcolm Rymer (1814–1884), writer
- William Vincent Wallace (1812–1865), composer
- Thomas Wakley (1795–1862), surgeon, campaigner and founder of The Lancet
- John William Waterhouse (1849–1917), artist
- John Whichcord Jr. (1823–1885), architect
- Jane Williams (1798–1884), subject of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley
- Alfred Wigan (1814–1878), actor-manager
- Walter Clopton Wingfield (1833-1912), pioneer of lawn tennis.
The cemetery is remarkable for the number of Fellows of the Royal Society who are buried there, of whom the following is a small sample:
- Charles Babbage FRS (1816) (1791–1871), mathematician, computer scientist
- George Bishop FRS (1848)
- William John Broderip FRS (1828)
- Robert Brown (botanist) FRS (1839) (1773–1858), botanist, discoverer of Brownian motion
- Samuel Hawksley Burbury FRS (1890)
- George Busk FRS (1850) (1807–1886), naval surgeon, zoologist and palaeontologist
- Alexander John Ellis FRS (1864)
- Hugh Falconer FRS (1845) (1808–1865), naturalist
- David Forbes (mineralogist) FRS (1858)
- Thomas Galloway FRS (1848)
- John Hall Gladstone FRS (1853)
- Joseph Glynn FRS (1838)
- John Gould FRS (1843)
- William Robert Grove Sir, FRS (1847)
- Edmond Herbert Grove-Hills FRS (1911)
- Frank McClean FRS (1895)
- Rudolph Messel FRS (1912)
- George Newport FRS (1846)
- Reverend Baden Powell, FRS (1824) father of Robert and Agnes Baden-Powell
- Joseph Sabine FRS (1799)
- George James Symons FRS (1879)
- Edward Troughton FRS (1810)
- Edward Turner (chemist) FRS (1830)
- Nathaniel Wallich FRS (1829)
- Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex and son of King George III of the United Kingdom
- Princess Sophia, sister of Prince Augustus Frederick and daughter of King George III.
- Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, grandson of George III and commander-in-chief of the British Army
- Freddie Mercury (1946–1991), singer of Queen (ashes reputedly scattered on the shores of Lake Geneva, near Montreux, Switzerland where a statue commemorates him)
- Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982), actress (most of her ashes were scattered around the islet of Dannholmen off the fishing village of Fjällbacka on the west coast of Sweden where she spent most summers from 1958 to her death in 1982, with the remainder of her ashes buried at Norra begravningsplatsen in Stockholm, Sweden next to her parents)
- Major Herbert James (1888-1958), VC winner at Gallipoli, First World War
Records held at Kensal Green Cemetery
- The Founding of Kensal Green Cemetery Accessed 7 February 2014
- . It is still in operation. Chesterton, Gilbert Keith (1914). "The Rolling English Road". The Flying Inn.
- 'Kensal Green', Survey of London: volume 37: Northern Kensington (1973), pp. 333-339. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=49882 Date accessed: 10 February 2014.
- Kensal Green Founders Accessed 10 February 2014
- Arnold, Catharine (2006). Necropolis: London and its dead. London: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781416502487.
-  CWGC Cemetery Report.
-  CWGC Debt of Honour Register.
- Remembering Frederick Scott Archer BBC article, 27 April 2010
- Boase, George Clement (1896). "Quin, Frederic Hervey Foster". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 47. London: Smith, Elder & Co. "… and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery on 28 Nov."
- W. B. Owen, revised by H. C. G. Matthew, 'Reich, Emil (1854–1910)', in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) online version (subscription required), accessed 26 September 2013
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kensal Green Cemetery.|
- The Official Website of Kensal Green Cemetery.
- Friends of the Cemetery.
- Cemeteries of Britain.
- London's Victorian Garden Cemeteries.
- Recent photos (including the 2007 openday) and information on Kensal Green Cemetery.
- Aerial view from 1928, from the English Heritage "Britain from Above" archive