St Pancras and Islington Cemetery
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Islington Chapel, English Heritage Listed Building Grade II
|Location||East Finchley, London|
|Size||190 acres (77 ha)|
|No. of interments||around 1 million|
St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in East Finchley, North London while situated in the London Borough of Barnet is actually two cemeteries, owned by two other London Boroughs, Camden (formerly St Pancras) and Islington. The fence along the boundary which runs west to east between the two parts of the cemetery has been removed, although the line of it is still marked.
Although Brookwood Cemetery in Woking, Surrey, is the country's biggest cemetery by area with over 2,000 acres, the St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in North London accommodates over three times the number interred at Brookwood and more than any other cemetery in the UK. Two conjoined cemeteries, St Pancras and Islington, form the third largest single cemetery serving London after Brookwood Cemetery and City of London Cemetery and Crematorium and in burial numbers, the largest in the UK with around one million interments and cremations. St Pancras and Islington Cemetery is designated Grade II* on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England.
- 1 Cemetery
- 2 Gallery
- 3 Ecology
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Origin and development
St Pancras and Islington, located in Finchley, is also one of London's historically most interesting cemeteries. Following the Metropolitan Burials Act 1852 and later acts which were designed to alleviate serious health and other problems caused by over-crowded burial grounds and lack of management and accountability, the cemetery was established in 1854 as the first municipally owned cemetery in London when the St Pancras Burial Board bought 88 acres (360,000 m2) of the former Horseshoe Farm on Finchley Common. A further 94 acres (380,000 m2) were annexed in 1877 and the total area was divided between Islington and Camden, the former having two areas to the north-west and east, the latter having the remainder. A bank and ditch along the eastern edge marks the parish boundary between Finchley and Hornsey. To the south the cemetery is bordered by the ancient woodland of Coldfall Wood, to the north the North Circular road and to the west by the A1000 Great North Road. The cemetery features several chapels and a large crematorium built by Albert Freeman in 1937.
The St Pancras Anglican chapel (listed grade II) lies at the centre of the semicircular drive which links the entrance and exit to the cemetery, c 250m north-east of the entrance. It was built in 1853 by John Barnett and William C. Birch in a cruciform design, with decorated windows in Gothic style and a central octagonal crossing tower and spire. It was used by both St Pancras and Islington until 1896, when the Islington chapel was built. The Nonconformist chapel was built in the early 1850s by Barnett and Birch and had a six-sided lantern. It was demolished in the 20th century.
The St Pancras Roman Catholic chapel (1896) lies on the north side of Roman Road (c 540m north-east of the Islington Anglican chapel), and is in a simple Gothic style. Many of the tombs in the Roman Catholic section are decorated with angels and there are several interesting tombs, including the Melesi Mausoleum of 1914, for an early victim of a car accident.
St Pancras Cemetery has a war graves plot containing over 100 graves from both world wars, together with a number of headstones retrieved from graves that were scattered elsewhere in the cemetery and could not be maintained. A memorial bears the names of 27 casualties whose graves could not be marked individually, and of six First World War casualties buried in adjacent Islington Cemetery who could not be commemorated there. In total 299 First World War Commonwealth service casualties - including one unidentified Royal Navy sailor - and 207 Second World War casualties are commemorated or buried here. John Ross who gained the Victoria Cross is also buried here.
Islington Cemetery contains the graves of 334 Commonwealth service personnel of the First and 265 of the Second World War, which are all scattered throughout the cemetery. A Screen Wall memorial in the western part of the cemetery lists names of those buried here whose graves could not be individually marked by headstones, together with those of two servicemen of the Second World War who were cremated at Islington Crematorium. Six soldiers buried in this cemetery whose graves could not be located are alternatively commemorated on stones in St Pancras Cemetery (above).
Mausoleums and memorials
The grade II listed Mond Mausoleum by Thomas Arthur Darcy Braddell is built in the Grecian style (based on the Temple of Nemesis) in granite and Portland stone, with a pediment supported by two fluted Ionic columns. It was built for Ludwig Mond,a German-born chemist and industrialist.
There is a memorial for William French who lost his life on 13 July 1896 by saving a dog from drowning in Highgate Ponds North London. The dog survived, alas Mr French did not. The monument was erected in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in commemoration of his brave deed and paid for by public subscription.
Due to the areas covered by the old parishes and the later Borough Councils, many of the burials of central/north Victorian London are contained within the cemetery. Thus it represents a large and fascinating historical cross section of London from the 1850s on. There are tombs of every type and style, with the larger Victorian and Edwardian monuments strategically placed along the main drives (Viaduct Road, Circular Road, and Church Road), and at the main junctions.
St Pancras and Islington Cemetery has the largest number of interments of any cemetery in the UK, with around 812,000 burials and 56,000 cremations recorded since its opening in 1854 (excluding the exhumations and re-interments from demolished churchyards which make the number reach over 1 million). There are many interesting graves at the cemetery, including one put up by the St Pancras Board to celebrate members of their parish who had reached the 100 years milestone.
Reburial of human remains from the London churchyards
- St Pancras Old Church
- St Mary's Church, Islington
- St Luke Old Street
- The City Bunhill burial-ground, Golden Lane
- Valentine Bambrick, VC recipient.
- Cora Henrietta Crippen, wife of notorious murderer Dr. Crippen
- Ben Kinsella, murder victim.
- Henry Croft, first "Pearly King".
- William Crump, first Mayor of Islington.
- Henri d'Alcorn (born George Henry Stannard Allcorn), composer of 'La Varsoviana' (Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay), a variation on the Varsovienne.
- Sir Eugene Aynsley Goossens, violinist and conductor.
- John Hickey, survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade, monument erected by admirers (among which Jerome K. Jerome).
- Ken "Snakehips" Johnson, dance band leader.
- Ford Madox Brown, Pre-Raphaelite artist.
- Alfred Mond, 1st Baron Melchett, director of ICI, Liberal MP and Zionist.
- Ludwig Mond, wealthy industrialist and humanitarian, whose family built a large mausoleum for him.
- Mary Shepherd, a tramp who lived in Alan Bennett's driveway and is the subject of his Lady in the Van.
- George Cuvier "The Boy" Spencer, who introduced an early form of bicycle known as the velocipede to England, and his nephew Percival "Percy" Spencer, who was buried beneath a stone hot air balloon, marking the family's interest in ballooning.
- George Price, American geneticist, who is buried in an unmarked grave.
- Tiverton Preedy, clergyman and founder of Barnsley Football Club.
- John Baptista De Manio, aviation pioneer, lost his life whilst flying at Lisbon, 13th. June 1913, aged 39 years.
Cemetery opening times
- Daily including Bank Holidays Summer: 9am - 5pm
- Winter: 9am - 4pm
- Christmas Day: 10am to 2pm
The cemetery has areas of neutral open grassland, wetland and ancient woodland. It is a Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation, Grade II.
The London Ecology Unit has advised the owners on management aimed to conserve natural features, whilst recognising the primary use of the cemetery as a burial ground. In recent years, there has been a policy of informed indifference to areas that are not in active use for burials. The result has been a proliferation of natural wildlife. Large tracts of scrub and secondary woodland have been allowed to develop on former burial plots, supplementing the original plantings, and producing an exceptionally diverse habitat.
This mixed secondary woodland consists largely of sycamore and ash, with much pedunculate oak, hawthorn and willow. Some exotic ornamental trees have been introduced from time to time, including avenues of limes and horse chestnuts, Lawson's cypress, various pines, yew and monkey-puzzle.
Holly and bramble woodland flora grows beneath the trees and alongside paths, including bluebells, pignut, goldilocks buttercup, cuckoo flower, bugle, and wild strawberry. These have spread from the adjacent woodland, or survived from the cemetery's prior existence as Horseshoe Farm.
In the north-east corner of the cemetery, the Strawberry Vale Brook, culverted for most of its length, emerges into an open course. Wetland habitats here contain mature white willow, rushes, reedmace, marsh thistle, pendulous sedge, and great willowherb.
Ornithology and zoology
- "Cemetery Details". CWGC. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "Cemetery Details". CWGC. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "St Pancras and Islington Cemetery". Greenspace Information for Greater London. 2006. Retrieved 9 September 2012.[dead link]
- "iGiGL – helping you find London’s parks and wildlife sites". Greenspace Information for Greater London. 2006. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012.
- Camden Council's site on St Pancras Cemetery
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission site on St Pancras Cemetery
- St Pancras and Islington Cemetery and Crematorium, London Gardens Online