Key Hill Cemetery

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Key Hill Cemetery
Key Hill Cemetery autumn MF.jpg
Key Hill Cemetery in the Autumn. The Jewellery Quarter station of the Midland Metro is behind the wall
Established 1836
Location Hockley, Birmingham
Country England
Coordinates 52°29′28″N 1°54′54″W / 52.491°N 1.915°W / 52.491; -1.915Coordinates: 52°29′28″N 1°54′54″W / 52.491°N 1.915°W / 52.491; -1.915
Gates and railings on Icknield Street - listed monument
1903 Ordnance Survey map

Key Hill Cemetery, (OS grid reference SP059882), originally called Birmingham General Cemetery, a Nonconformist (non-denominational) cemetery, is the oldest cemetery (not being in a churchyard) in Birmingham, England.[1] It opened on 23 May 1836. Located in Hockley, the city's Jewellery Quarter, it is one of two cemeteries there (the other being Warstone Lane Cemetery). It is no longer available for new burials.

Many of the fittings and memorials are of architectural and artistic merit: the entrance gates (piers by Charles Edge)[2] and railings are Grade II listed.[3] The Greek Doric chapel by Charles Edge has been demolished.[2] The cemetery is itself grade II* on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. A campaign group, the Friends of Key Hill & Warstone Lane Cemeteries, lobby to have the cemetery restored. The entrance piers and gates on Icknield Street have now been restored and further works undertaken to the entrance at Key Hill.


A comprehensive record of memorial inscriptions of existing memorials (and of some of those removed by Birmingham City Council) may be consulted through the Jewellery Quarter Research Trust's website.[4]

Notable people buried there include:

  • Marie Bethell Beauclerc – First female reporter (i.e. Pitman's shorthand recorder) in England. Pioneer in teaching of shorthand and typing in Birmingham. First female teacher in an English boys' public school (Rugby). (b 10 Oct 1845, d 19 Sept 1897), (plot 961.I)
  • Alfred Bird – inventor of egg-free custard and baking powder, (d 18 December 1878, age 67), (plot 164.H)[5]
  • Joseph Chamberlain (senior) – father of the politician Joseph Chamberlain, Master of the Cordwainer's Company of London, (plot 622.K)[5]
  • Joseph Chamberlain and his two wives, Harriet and Florence – Mayor and reformer of Birmingham, MP, plot 610.K)[5]
  • John Henry Chamberlain – local architect, (plot 701.K)[5]
  • Robert Lucas Chance – director of Chance Brothers, glass makers of Smethwick, (d 24 November 1897, age 76), (plot 902.K)[5]
  • Robert William Dale – preacher, (b 1 December 1829, d 13 March 1895), (637.K)[5]
  • George Dawson – preacher, (d 30 November 1876, age 55), (plot 507.O)[5]
  • Joseph Gillott – pen manufacturer, (b 1799, d 5 January 1872), (plot 374-375.E)[5]
  • James Hinks – developer and manufacturer of oil lamps (company run by brother, Joseph Hinks), (d 1905), (plot 389.P)[5]
  • Harriet Martineau – author, (b, 12 June 1802, d 27 June 1876) who is buried beside her mother Elizabeth Martineau, née Rankin (b 1771, d 1848); Elizabeth is the great-great-great-great-great-grandmother of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge[6] (plot 790/I)[5]
  • Robert Martineau – Mayor of Birmingham 1846, JP, Bailiff of Lench's Trust, (d 17 June 1870, age 72) (plot 790/I)[5]
  • Robert Francis Martineau – JP, Secretary of the BMI, council member of Mason's College and then University of Birmingham, (d 15 December 1909, age 78) (plot 790/I)[5]
  • Sir Thomas Martineau – Mayor of Birmingham 1884-7, (b 4 November 1828, d 28 July 1893) (plot 134.K)[5]
  • Constance Naden – poet, philosopher, and science student (b 24 January 1858, d 23 December 1889) (plot P 460)[5]
  • A. Follett Osler – glass manufacturer, developer of time-pieces, (d 26 April 1903, age 95), (plot 611.K)[5]
  • John Skirrow Wright – reformer, MP, (d 15 April 1880, age 68), (plot 218.E)[5]
  • Edwin Yates – Mayor of Birmingham 1865, (d 30 June 1874, age 54), (plot 426.K)[5]

War Graves[edit]

There are 46 Commonwealth service war graves in the cemetery, commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 38 from the First World War (mostly in section L, none marked by headstones) whose names are listed on a Screen Wall memorial, and eight from the Second.[7]


  1. ^ In The Midst of Life – A History of the Burial Grounds of Birmingham, Joseph McKenna, Birmingham Library Services, 1992, ISBN 0-7093-0188-X
  2. ^ a b Pevsner Architectural Guides - Birmingham, Andy Foster, 2005, ISBN 0-300-10731-5
  3. ^ Historic England. "Grade II gates (217322)". Images of England. 
  4. ^ "Jewellery Quarter Research Trust". Retrieved 27 September 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Official Guide to the Birmingham General Cemetery, E. H. Manning, Hudson & Son, Livery Street, Birmingham, 1915. Birmingham Public Libraries (Reference, Local Studies, B.Coll 45.5)
  6. ^ Wargs, ancestry of Catherine E. Middleton. "Ancestry C. E. Middleton". Wargs. Wm Addams Trust. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ [1] CWGC cemetery report.

External links[edit]