The cemetery appears to have originated in c.1786 as a small burial plot donated by King George III, who also endowed the workhouse nearby. In 1853 steps were taken to acquire the cemetery for municipal use, although Richmond Burial Board was not formed until 1868. Between 1868 and 1890 the cemetery was enlarged several times, with further extensions in 1898 and 1902. Adjacent and contiguous with Richmond Cemetery is East Sheen Cemetery. The cemetery contains numerous mature trees including yew and cypress, particularly in the older part, and the more open grassed area is surrounded by horse chestnuts, lime, false acacia and ash, with yew and holly throughout. There are numerous interesting tombs commemorating people in all walks of life, including a number of local and national dignitaries.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2009
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.richmond.gov.uk/cemeteries
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.
In the C18th King George III had a farm to the west of East Sheen Common near the parish boundary and King's Ride recalls the route from Kew Palace to the farm and Richmond Park. The oldest part of Richmond Cemetery has mature trees, a decayed gothic chapel in the cemetery itself and a restored gothic chapel at the entrance gate. There are many interesting tombs and the site was rural and picturesque, not unlike Highgate Cemetery (q.v.), albeit on a much smaller scale. Present day management techniques have allowed brambles to proliferate and obscure many of the historic tombs. Parallel to the eastern boundary wall is a lower wall, and between the two is a strip of land or 'deer leap' of the adjacent Richmond Park (q.v.), created to safeguard the park boundaries.
King George III apparently provided 0.6 hectares (1.5 acres) for burial purposes in c.1786, and to the south-west, and separated from the burial plot by open ground, was the workhouse of 1786 with the inscription over the main entrance that it was provided 'by the munificence of H M King George III'. The OS Map of 1865 shows the cemetery as a simple square plot divided into four squares by footpaths. The OS Map of 1879 shows the site between the original plot and the workhouse laid out on a grid, and by 1893-94 another new extension was in existence to the north, also laid out on a grid. The OS Map of 1893/4 no longer shows the C18th layout of footpaths in the original burial plot although these partially reappear on subsequent maps.
Richmond Cemetery had two gothic chapels: the nonconformist ragstone chapel in Early English Gothic style and to the south of this is the C of E chapel, designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1875. The nonconformist chapel is in private ownership and was restored in the 1990s, now outside the entrance gate on Grove Road following repositioning of the gates. The Anglican chapel is also gothic in style constructed in squared hammer-dressed Kentish ragstone with Bath stone bands and enrichments, with a buttressed gable front, the entrance inscribed with the words: 'In the Garden was a new sepulchre, there laid they Jesus'. By the 1990s the chapel was in a poor state of repair and used as a tool store, but since restored and very little of the grid pattern of paths was visible by the mid 1990s, the cemetery much overgrown with brambles.
Interesting tombs include engraver William Harvey's granite tomb of 1866 lying at a steep angle with an incised palette on top of one of the sides. Among those buried here is Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1837-1915), a prolific popular novelist of the 'sensationalist' school, admired by Queen Victoria, whose best-known novel, 'Lady Audley's Secret' began serialisation in 1862 in the Robin Goodfellow Magazine and then the Sixpenny Magazine. She lived in Lichfield House, Sheen Road with John Maxwell, publisher, who she married in 1874; he invested in property in the King's Road area of Richmond and named certain streets after characters in her novels including Marchmont Road and Audley Road. Lichfield House was demolished and the 1930s block of flats on the site of the house remain today.
Hugh Meller & Brian Parsons, 'London Cemeteries, An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer', 4th edition (The History Press, 2008); Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; John Archer, David Curson, 'Nature Conservation in Richmond upon Thames, Ecology Handbook 21', (London Ecology Unit) 1993 p81