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Woolwich Cemetery (Old and New) Greenwich

Summary

Woolwich Cemetery is in two parts, the Old Cemetery to the west and the New Cemetery to the east. The west part was laid out by Woolwich Burial Board in 1856 on land that was once part of Plumstead Common. The walled and railed cemetery retains one of the original chapels and has a number of fine mature trees. Although some gravestones have been cleared, among the memorials is that to victims of the Princes Alice disaster of 1878. The east site for the New Cemetery was purchased in 1885 and is still in use. It contains graves of those who died in explosions at Royal Arsenal as well as the War Memorial and a number of War Graves.

Basic Details

Site location:
Camdale Road/King's Highway, Plumstead

Postcode:
SE18 2DS ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Cemetery

Date(s):
1856; 1885

Designer(s):

Listed structures:
Local list: West (old) Cemetery: gates, railings, walls and piers; boundary walls; chapel

Borough:
Greenwich

Site ownership:
RB Greenwich

Site management:
Parks and Open Spaces

Open to public?
Yes

Opening times:
Daily: April-Sept 9am-7pm; October-March 9am-4pm

Special conditions:
No dogs except guide dogs

Facilities:
Toilets (Old Cemetery)

Events:

Public transport:
Rail: Welling then bus. Bus: 51

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2006
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk

Further Information

Grid ref:
TQ457774 and TQ459773

Size in hectares:
c.13.12 (Old 5.14, New 7.98)

Green Flag:
No

On EH National Register :
No

EH grade:
None

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
No

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
No

In Conservation Area:
No

Tree Preservation Order:
Not known

Nature Conservation Area:
No

Green Belt:
No

Metropolitan Open Land:
No

Special Policy Area:
Yes - Area of Special Character of Metropolitan Importance

Other LA designation:
Green Chain

Fuller information

Woolwich Cemetery is in two parts, the westerly Old Cemetery and the easterly New Cemetery, divided by Rockliffe Gardens (q.v.). The Old Cemetery was founded in 1856 by Woolwich Burial Board, who laid out the cemetery on a 12-acre site, admired by David Meller for its adaptation into 'something like a country park'. The hillside site was formerly part of Plumstead Common (q.v.), and has a number of large mature trees, including Cedars, Scots pine, limes, Corsican pines and copper beech. The cemetery was walled and railed and its original Early English style brick Anglican chapel remains on the brow of the hill but the non-denominational chapel has been demolished. The old lodge of the west cemetery was demolished in 1960, and a new lodge was built in 1969. Another lodge was on Camdale Road but this became derelict and has also been demolished. Many gravestones were cleared from the old cemetery, and the east site for the New Cemetery was bought in 1885 and is still in use. The site incorporates William Barefoot Gardens (q.v.) at the east end fronting Alliance Road.

Within the Old Cemetery is a white marble Celtic cross commemorating 120 people buried here who were lost in the Princess Alice disaster on the Thames on 3 September 1878 when the collier steamer 'Bywell Castle' collided and cut the pleasure steamer in two. Of the 700 people on board only 69 survived, poisoned rather than drowned due to the polluted state of the Thames. The cross was erected by a National Sixpenny Subscription to which over 23,000 people contributed, and the disaster instigated the establishment of sewage treatment plants for the Thames. The memorial cross to Temple Leighton Phipson-Wybrants is also in the Old Cemetery, who died in command of an expedition exploring the Sabi River in East Africa on 29 November 1880. His body was brought back at his mother's instigation and buried here on 7 October 1881. Two recipients of the Victoria Cross are buried here, John Taylor (18 June 1855), and Thomas Monaghan (8 October 1858). In the New Cemetery is a small relief sculpture of Sister Gladys Richards-Lockwood (d.1955) shown with spectacles in her nurse's uniform. There are also graves of workers at the Royal Arsenal who died in explosions there as well as the War Memorial and a number of War Graves. The lodge and toilet block adjacent to the main entrance have suffered from vandalism and arson, as has the boundary wall.

Sources consulted:

Hugh Meller & Brian Parsons, 'London Cemeteries, An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer', 4th edition (The History Press, 2008); Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); LB Greenwich website

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