|New Southgate Cemetery and Crematorium||Barnet|
New Southgate Cemetery was founded by a private cemetery company in 1861, rendered necessary as inner London burial grounds became increasingly crowded. There was originally a special branch line of the main Great Northern Railway connecting the cemetery from Kings Cross, hence its earlier name. The cemetery was laid out on a concentric plan with a Gothic chapel in the centre, and has mature trees, especially in the southern, older section. Oak, horse chestnut, sycamore and yew are found in the newer area, which is more open. Monuments include a late C19th obelisk erected by the Society of Friends and a walled garden dedicated to Shogi Effendi, the Baha'i leader.
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New Southgate Cemetery and Crematorium, Chapel, September 2000. Photo: S Williams
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Formerly called the Great Northern Cemetery, New Southgate Cemetery was founded by a private cemetery company in 1861 who originally planned that it should cover 200 acres, rendered necessary as inner London burial grounds were becoming increasingly crowded. The cemetery was laid out by Alexander Spurr on a concentric plan with a Gothic chapel with a fine 150ft spire in the centre, and bounded by railings, with elaborate Gothic ragstone gate piers at the entrances. There was originally a special branch line of the main Great Northern Railway connecting the cemetery from Kings Cross to New Southgate, hence the earlier name, but this only ran from 1861-3. The alighting point was situated on part of the cemetery to the west of Brunswick Park Road, formerly called East Barnet Lane. This land was later sold off for development and there is no evidence left of the railway; those buried in this section were reburied in the main area in 1971. The entrance gates that were once here have been relocated inside the cemetery near the chapel. The interior of the chapel was converted to a crematorium in the 1950s, although a proposal for this to be the site of London's first crematorium was put forward in the 1870s but Woking Crematorium was built instead.
The landscape contains mature trees, especially in the southern, older section, which is wooded and quite naturalised. Oak, horse chestnut, sycamore and yew are found in the newer area although this is more open. Monuments include a late C19th obelisk erected by the Society of Friends and a walled garden with a large marble column surmounted by a golden eagle, dedicated to Shogi Effendi, the Baha'i leader who died in 1957 on a visit to London. Among others buried here are the cemetery's architect and superintendent Alexander Spurr (d.1873), Alan Ross McWhirter (d.1975) who with his twin brother Norris founded the Guinness Book of Records, and Baldassare Viscardini (d.1896) a soldier in Giuseppe Garibaldi's army in the Italian War of Independence. The cemetery has been used for reinterrments, including those from a number of City churches, and from the Savoy Chapel (q.v.) in the Strand following a fire of 1864.
In 1993 the cemetery was acquired by New Southgate Cemetery and Crematorium Company since which time over £1.5m has been spent on improvements. The cemetery has sections dedicated to different faiths, including three Roman Catholic sections, the most recent opened in 1997 and is overlooked by a statue of the Virgin Mary. The cemetery has had strong links with the Greek Cypriot community since the 1950s, and a new Greek Orthodox section opened in 1998 named after Revd Kyriacou Petrou, a local priest buried here, Another recent section has been established for Caribbean graves.
Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998) p175; Hugh Meller & Brian Parsons, London Cemeteries, An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer, 4th edition (The History Press, 2008); Jan Hewlett, Ian Yarham, David Curson, 'Nature Conservation in Barnet' (London Ecology Unit, 1997).