Talk:Kensal Green Cemetery

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Query and responses[edit]

"Kensal Green is the oldest English cemetery still in operation"

- can this really be right? I see that from the Friends' website (link on article page) it is the oldest of the 7 big out-of-town London cemeteries of the 1830s(ish) on - but is that the same thing? Does the above statement depend on a particular definition of "cemetery", which I am not understanding? Or what?? All discussion gratefully read! Nevilley 23:10 Jan 11, 2003 (UTC)

There is a cemetery at the bottom of my street around an 11th century church. There are graves in it from last year -- Tarquin 23:12 Jan 11, 2003 (UTC)
well yep I was thinking along those lines too. Unless the person who wrote that was using "cemetery" in a specific sense, i.e. not a churchyard? It sounds unlikely, but I thought I would wait for a response before editing. It will certainly be the oldest of the London 7 still in use (I did a gig there a few years ago!), maybe the oldest of that whole type, but if you use "cemetery" to mean "a place for burying dead people" (which I think is inter alia more or less what the wiki definitions says) then no, it can't possibly be right! :) Nevilley 23:15 Jan 11, 2003 (UTC)
PS we ought to get this right as it is clearly a grave matter. Nevilley 23:16 Jan 11, 2003 (UTC)
OK I've done it. Views anyone??? Nevilley 23:40 Feb 10, 2003 (UTC)

A gig...? Are you a vicar or a member of a goth rock band? -- Tarquin 23:23 Jan 11, 2003 (UTC)

Heheh. A trumpet player. Someone rang me out of the blue, her husband had died, he wanted a tpt at his funeral, would I go and play. I had to stand right at the front, a foot or two away from the coffin, and launch straight into some hairy scary Baroque piece having sat there freezing for ages. Was I nervous. :) Nevilley 12:51 Jan 12, 2003 (UTC)
  • Your assumption is correct. There are many cemeteries in the UK that are older. Kensal Green is the oldest of the Magnificent Seven still in operation. This is not very hard as I believe only Highgate is still in operation. I am relatively sure that Abney Park, Brompton, Nunhead, Tower Hamlets and West Norwood have all stopped interring bodies, I believe West Norwood still does cremations. Although when I was in West Norwood in February 2010, I had the idea that there were a few new graves. Kensal Green and Brompton still have a lot of catacomb space available but it is not a popular form of burial. JHvW (talk) 09:44, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
(Moved above post to bottom of thread for readability)
  • Cremations still occur in West Norwood, and there places for ashes to be interred. It is also still possible to be buried in West Norwood, if there is space still available in a family plot. These were the new burials that you saw. There are currently no new empty plots for sale, although there may be spaces in the catacombs. However, it is more complicated than that. For the last few decades, English law has allowed for burial rights to be extinguished in a local authority cemetery after a number of years - so that the plots can be resold for new burials. This is happening already at the City of London Cemetery, and in some ways this follows the practice in many Continental countries. However, the Magnificent Seven were private companies founded by their own Acts of Parliament which allowed for burials 'in perpetuity'. These Acts were never rescinded, so there is potential for a conflict in law if a private cemetery comes under local authority control, such as happened at West Norwood. West Norwood was the subject of a legal battle in Consistory (Church) Court that found the method of reburial was illegal. However, that judgement related to the method, and not necessarily the principle or reburial. If an acceptable method is found in the future, new burials in old plots may recommence. Ephebi (talk) 17:44, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

Remove the list?[edit]

There is a category for those interrred at this cemetery. Should we just rely on that, and do away with the list of names? Noisy | Talk 18:25, September 2, 2005 (UTC)

  • after the discussion at Wikipedia:Categories for discussion/Log/2007 June 29 (→Burials redux) it would seem best to avoid the listing of names, and instead integrate some of the notables into the text, which can be useful to pick out themes or illustrate the character of the place. You can then rely on the category to mop up the other notables. Ephebi 12:56, 10 July 2007 (UTC)


I have some more photos - will make a commons page soon. Light is not good at this time of year, but the gasometers are lovely. Justinc 00:39, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

Lord Baden Powell[edit]

B-P is actually buried in Nyeri, Kenya. Chris 20:25, 11 January 2006 (UTC) (a picture can be seen in his monograph: Grave of B-P) JHvW (talk) 09:44, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Chris is right, he lived there in Nyeri from 1939-1941, died there, and is buried there. Rlevse 01:52, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
The Reverend Baden Powell is buried in Kensal Green. He was Lord Baden Powell´s father. JHvW (talk) 09:44, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
One of Lord Baden Powell´s relatives, Percy Huxford, died as a Sea Scout in the Leysdown Tragedy, aged only 12. A special memorial was built for these Sea Scouts in Nunhead Cemetery. JHvW (talk) 09:44, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
Huxford wasn't a relative, but was named for BP. See [1] and [2]. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 23:09, 6 August 2012 (UTC)


How are there 250,000 people in 65,000 graves? Are they stacked on top of each other, mostly cremated, or what? Rlevse 13:29, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

  • 65,000 plots - where a plot can hold many bodies or sets of ashes. Ephebi 12:58, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
So are they stacking the caskets? One at 6 feet down, another at 3 or 4 feet down, etc? --Ragemanchoo (talk) 11:31, 4 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, pretty much. Burial law is complex, but in general the plot owner can place several bodies in one plot. Dig the first one deep, then lay the next on top... Recent changes to the law are likely to allow plots to be reused in this after a time Ephebi (talk) 23:53, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
This is true, although the facts are even worse. Even Kensal Green offered "cheap burials", this meant however that people were buried in communal graves, sometimes ten people on top of each other. Burial law is complex and has changed over the years.JHvW (talk) 09:44, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Cemetery removals???[edit]

"It is the only such cemetery established by an act of the British Parliament with a mandate that its bodies may not be exhumed and cremated or the land sold for development." Is this kind of thing common? Its not very common here in the states. --Ragemanchoo (talk) 11:31, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

  • Questions, questions! Its very rare here as well - proposals to the close a churchyard or disturb consecrated ground would have to go to a special hearing here, called a Consistory Court. Ephebi (talk) 00:04, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
    • So moving the cemetery (digging everything up, both costly and ghoulish) basically out of the question? And its basically closed to everything but ash-related internments/scatterings? --Ragemanchoo (talk) 06:05, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps a few decades ago it might have been possible, as there was rather less respect for historical items. nowadays, while technically not impossible, practically its not feasible if the land has been dedicated in some way as a burial space. Thus the land used by official churchyards and the Magnificent Seven cemeteries are quite literally sacrosanct. There have been instances where ancient unmarked burial areas have been unearthed and cleared to make way way for development if, say, a Roman site or medieval hospital burial ground gets accidentally discovered during the building of a city office block, but this would still require the correct legal process to be gone through. It is interesting to compare approaches across the Atlantic; US archaeologists seem to have had free reign to dig up the burial grounds of the Jamestown Settlement and tourist attraction in Virginia, but when they requested a sample of DNA from the bones of a suspected relative of Captain Bignold who was buried in a UK church this was referred to the appropriate Archbishop's Court. After a long deliberation they agreed to disturb the burials in the vault, but even after four centuries this was controversial and ultimately false as nothing was proven.) Ephebi (talk) 08:26, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
This is not entirely true. When it becomes neccessary to clear a graveyard it can be done. In the City of London Cemetery there are a few memorials for bodies that have been moved from graveyards of churches that were demolished. But burial is a very sensitive issue in the UK. In principle when you buy a plot in a Magnificent Seven cemetery, you buy it in perpetuity. Some of the local councils thought this incorrect and cleared away some of the graves that had fallen into disrepair. They were however stopped and fined. They were given the task of tracing the decendants of people in the graves that had been cleared and reimbursing them. The sad thing is that most of the companies that originally operated these cemeteries have all gone bankrupt, although I believe the General Cemetery Company (that operates Kensal Green) is still in operation. The cemeteries have since been severely neglected. It has not been until recently that the "Friends movement" has started cleaning up and restoring these cemeteries, often with the help of English Heritage and the Lottery. It is sad if you go to places like Abney Park or Nunhead, so many beautiful monuments are lost. Brompton was in a sense lucky as it has been the property of the Royal Park Service for a long time but even there quite a few of the monuments are badly defaced.JHvW (talk) 09:44, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Although this was more acceptable in decades past, I'm not aware of a whole cemetery being cleared in England in the last decade or two . The proposal for the 5th runway at Heathrow requires the demolition of a village church and its churchyard, and this is now one of the objections being loudly cited by protesters. FYI, there are lots of different legal situations to consider here; ancient burial sites, churchyards, and specific cemeteries. A lot of clearances happened under what we would now consider dubious legal circumstances. This was clarified in 1977 when burial "in perpetuity" was redefined in English law as meaning 75 years. I think the example of illegally clearing burials that were made "in perpetuity" that you mentioned is a single case - West Norwood; although it set a precedent, not all aspects of the case are relevant to other cemeteries because it was founded by its own unique Acts, which have not been rescinded although they might contradict other more recent laws. Ephebi (talk) 10:09, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

Moved from article space[edit]

Thomas John Cochrain 1789 should read 1689 - 1782 (named just above Royal burials Kensal Green Cemetary (moved by Grim23 03:33, 22 February 2012 (UTC))

CfD Proposal to delete Burial by place category[edit]

It has been proposed here to delete the category that links people to their place of burial. Note that the proposer is recommending the removal of the whole tree of categories, not just the the top level categories listed. Ephebi (talk) 15:38, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

Freddy Mercury[edit]

Freddy Mercury was cremated at the West London Crematorium which is on the grounds of Kensal Green Cemetery. But where his ashes are can only be speculated. So I have removed his name from the list. (talk) 01:22, 14 March 2013 (UTC)