|City of London Cemetery and Crematorium *||Newham|
* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens
By 1849 most of the City of London's churchyards were full and unsanitary, and in the early 1850s interment ceased under the Metropolitan Burials Act. In 1854 the City's Commissioners of Sewers purchased farmland at Little Ilford, once part of Epping Forest, for a new cemetery to serve the City. It was designed by William Haywood, Engineer and Surveyor to the Commissioners with an extensive network of curving paths and avenues, two Gothic chapels and Catacomb Valley formed by draining a former fishpond, its grand entrance flanked by porter's lodge and superintendent's house. It was landscaped by Robert Davidson with gardens, trees and shrubberies. The first burial took place in June 1856. By dint of purchasing the land the City of London became a 'commoner of Epping Forest' and as such was influential in keeping the Forest from further encroachment and enclosure. One of the first crematoria to be built in this country was opened here in 1904, with the first cremation in 1905; in 1971-3 it was replaced by a second Crematorium. In 1937 a Garden of Rest was created and the Memorial Gardens were begun.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2012
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Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list
In 1849, Colonel William Haywood, Surveyor and Engineer to the City of London Commissioners of Sewers, reported to the Commissioners that there were 88 churchyards within the square mile of the City in area covering c. 8.5 acres, and many in a terrible, overcrowded condition. The pressure for a new cemetery was further increased following the closure of City churchyards in the early 1850s, and in 1853 the Commissioners began looking for suitable land. In 1854 the City of London Commissioners purchased 200 acres of Aldersbrook Farm lands for £30,721 to create the new cemetery from the then owner, Lord Wellesley, a relative of the Duke of Wellington.
Aldersbrook is first documented as a separate manor in the early C16th, and by 1517 it was the home of John Heron, Treasurer of Chamber to Henry VII and VIII. In the 1770s Aldersbrook was the largest estate in the area; in 1786 it was purchased by Sir James Long of Wanstead who demolished the manor house and the land was farmed. By dint of purchasing the land here the City of London became a 'commoner of Epping Forest' and as such was influential in keeping the Forest from encroachment and enclosure; Epping Forest was finally established through the Epping Forest Act of 1878.
The new cemetery was laid out by William Haywood in 1855 and was opened in 1856, the first burial taking place in that year on the 24th June, although it was not consecrated until November 1857 due to administrative complications which required the enactment of the Burial Acts Amendment Bill. A special railway siding and station had been planned but this was never realised due to lack of finances. It is among the largest municipal cemeteries in Europe and is second largest in London after the huge St Pancras and Islington Cemeteries (q.v.). It has been described as William Haywood's 'masterpiece' and 'the finest example of a Victorian cemetery, as originally intended, remaining in the capital'. Haywood had worked with Joseph Bazalgette on the Abbey Mills pumping station, nicknamed 'the cathedral of sewage', which still stands adjacent to The Greenway (q.v.) further to the south in Newham. Haywood's layout for the cemetery included the extensive network of curving paths and avenues, which now comprise 7 miles of roads; two Gothic chapels; Catacomb Valley formed by draining the lake, a former fishpond, with the catacombs built into the lakeside banks. The grand entrance retains its original ornamental iron gates flanked by porter's lodge and superintendent's house.
The cemetery was landscaped throughout with gardens, trees and shrubberies, including rhododendrons that are magnificent in the late Spring. A number of enclosures were formed to contain the reinterred remains from old City churchyards that were closed and cleared when the City was rebuilt in Victorian times, and there are also reinterments from churches destroyed as a result of bombing in World War II. There are over 35 of such reinterred churchyards here, including St Mary Aldermanbury, St Dionis Backchurch and St Mary Somerset.
In 1903 one of the first Crematoria to be built in this country was erected here, designed by D J Ross, Engineer to the Commissioners of Sewers and City Engineer from 1894-1905. It opened in 1904, with the first cremation in 1905. Its 80ft chimney is hidden beneath a Gothic framework. One wing of the Catacombs, which were 'not much in demand' was later converted into a Columbarium for ashes from the Crematorium. In 1971-3 a second Crematorium, with two chapels and six cremators able to deal with 40 funerals a day, was built and opened by the Lord Mayor, at which time the first crematorium was closed and converted into a chapel of remembrance and offices.
In 1937 a Garden of Rest was created and soon after the Memorial Gardens were begun, now covering nearly 13 ha. with over 20,000 rose bushes. Over half a million people have to date been buried or cremated here including William Haywood himself (d.1894) whose ashes are housed in the monument near the entrance which he designed in 1871 for the reinterred remains from the churchyards of St Andrew Holborn and St Sepulchre Holborn Viaduct. Others buried here include George Micklewright (d.1876), a C19th conservationist instrumental in saving Epping Forest; Elizabeth Everest (d.1895), nanny to Winston Churchill; two Lord Mayors of London; and George Binks, the inventor of wire ropes. The cemetery was managed by the Commissioners of Sewers until their abolition in 1898 whereupon it became the direct responsibility of the Corporation of London, coming under the Sanitary Committee, renamed the Public Health Committee in 1934. This committee was later replaced by The Port and City of London Health Committee in 1957, now The Port and City of London Health and Social Services Committee. The Cemetery first received the Green Flag Award in 2000/01, the first cemetery in the country to be awarded this accolade and has been a recipient in subsequent years. It was also awarded a Green Heritage Award in 2006-2007, and again, was the first such facility to receive this particular award.
Hugh Meller & Brian Parsons, 'London Cemeteries, An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer', 4th edition (The History Press, 2008), p132-141; John Archer/Ian Yarham, Nature Conservation in Newham, London Ecology Unit, 1991; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); various Corporation of London publications about the cemetery.