Key Hill Cemetery
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. 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, opened in 1847, and originally reserved for members of the established Church of England). The principal entrance is on Icknield Street (to the west), with a secondary entrance on Key Hill (to the north). The cemetery contains the graves of many prominent members of Birmingham society in the late 19th century, to the extent that in 1915 E. H. Manning felt able to dub it "the Westminster Abbey of the Midlands".
It is no longer available for new burials.
History and description
The cemetery was originally laid out for the Birmingham General Cemetery Company by local architect Charles Edge (d.1867). Many of its fittings and memorials are of architectural and artistic merit. The railings and entrance gates with imposing piers (all by Edge) are Grade II listed. The Greek Doric chapel, also by Edge, has been demolished. The cemetery is itself listed Grade II* on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. A campaign group, the Friends of Key Hill & Warstone Lane Cemeteries, lobbies to have the cemetery restored. The entrance piers and gates on both Icknield Street and Key Hill have been restored in recent years.
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.
Notable people buried in the cemetery include:
- Marie Bethell Beauclerc (1845–1897): first female reporter (i.e. Pitman shorthand recorder) in England; pioneer in teaching of shorthand and typing in Birmingham; first female teacher in an English boys' public school (Rugby). Plot 961.I.
- Alfred Bird (1811–1878): chemist and inventor of egg-free custard and baking powder. Plot 164.H.
- Joseph Chamberlain, senior (1796–1874): shoe manufacturer and Master of the Cordwainer's Company of London; father of the statesman Joseph Chamberlain. Plot 622.K.
- Joseph Chamberlain (1836–1914): politician and statesman, Mayor of Birmingham 1873–6, Member of Parliament 1876–1914; with his first two wives, Harriet (d. 1863) and Florence (d. 1875). Plot 610.K.
- John Henry Chamberlain (1831–1883): architect. Plot 701.K.
- Richard Chamberlain (1840–1899): Mayor of Birmingham 1879–80; Liberal and Liberal Unionist MP for Islington West 1885–92; younger brother of Joseph Chamberlain. Plot 620.K.
- Robert Lucas Chance (d. 1897): director of Chance Brothers, glass makers of Smethwick. Plot 902.K.
- Dr Robert William Dale (1829–1895): Congregationalist preacher and reformer. Plot 637.K.
- George Dawson (1821–1876): nonconformist preacher and reformer. Plot 507.O.
- George Edmonds (1788–1868): teacher, lawyer, scholar, radical and journalist. Plot 161.P.
- Joseph Gillott (1799–1872): pen manufacturer. Plot 374-375.E.
- William Harris (1826–1911): Liberal Party politician and strategist, architect, and writer. Plot 1.C.
- James Hinks (d. 1905): developer and manufacturer of oil lamps (the company was run by his brother, Joseph Hinks). Plot 389.P.
- John Alfred Langford (1823–1903): journalist, poet, political activist and antiquary. Plot 169.R.
- Harriet Martineau (1802–1876): author; buried beside her mother, Elizabeth Martineau, née Rankin (1771–1848); Elizabeth is the ancestor of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Plot 790.I.
- Robert Martineau (1798–1870): Mayor of Birmingham 1846, JP, Bailiff of Lench's Trust. Plot 790.I.
- Robert Francis Martineau (1831–1909): JP, Secretary of the Birmingham and Midland Institute, council member of Mason's College and then University of Birmingham. Plot 790.I.
- Sir Thomas Martineau (1828–1893): Mayor of Birmingham 1884–7. Plot 134.K.
- Constance Naden (1858–1889): poet, philosopher, and science student. Plot 460.P.
- A. Follett Osler (1808–1903): glass manufacturer, developer of time-pieces. Plot 611.K.
- Joseph Powell Williams (1840–1904): Liberal and Liberal Unionist MP for Birmingham South 1885–1904. Plot 917.K.
- Samuel Timmins (1826–1902): Shakespearean scholar and antiquarian. Plot 712.K.
- John Skirrow Wright (1822–1880): reformer and MP. Plot 218.E.
- Edwin Yates (c.1820–1874): Mayor of Birmingham 1865. Plot 426.K.
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.
- McKenna, Joseph (1992). In The Midst of Life – A History of the Burial Grounds of Birmingham. Birmingham: Birmingham Library Services. ISBN 0-7093-0188-X.
- Manning 1924, p. 11.
- Historic England. "Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham (Grade II*) (1001352)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
- Historic England. "Grade II gates (217322)". Images of England.
- Historic England. "Railings and 2 sets of gates and gate piers to Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham (Grade II) (1343080)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
- Foster, Andy (2005). Birmingham. Pevsner Architectural Guides. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 176. ISBN 0-300-10731-5.
- Foster 2005, p. 10.
- "Jewellery Quarter Research Trust". Retrieved 27 September 2016.
- Manning 1924.
- Wargs, ancestry of Catherine E. Middleton. "Ancestry C. E. Middleton". Wargs. Wm Addams Trust. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
- "Birmingham (Key Hill) Cemetery". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
- Manning, E. H. (1924) . Handbook of the Birmingham General Cemetery: together with biographical notes on those interred therein. Birmingham: Hudson & Son. (1915 edition at Library of Birmingham, Archives and Heritage section, B.Coll 45.5)
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