Brompton Cemetery in London
Brompton Cemetery is located near Earl's Court in South West London, England (postal districts SW 5 and 10). It is managed by The Royal Parks and is one of the Magnificent Seven. Established by Act of Parliament, it opened in 1840 and was originally known as the West of London and Westminster Cemetery.
Brompton Cemetery, consecrated by the Bishop of London in June 1840, is one of the Britain's oldest and most distinguished garden cemeteries. While the cemetery is still open for occasional new burials, today more people use it as a public park than as a place for mourning the dead.
The official address of Brompton Cemetery is Old Brompton Road in West Brompton, SW10, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The Main Gate (or North Gate) is near the junction with Kempsford Gardens. There is another gate (the South Gate), located on the Fulham Road near the junction with Hortensia Road.
The cemetery was one of seven large, modern cemeteries founded by private companies in the mid-19th century (sometimes called the 'Magnificent Seven') forming a ring around the edge of London. The inner city burial grounds, mostly churchyards, had long been unable to cope with the number of burials and were seen as a hazard to health and an undignified way to treat the dead.
Brompton Cemetery was designed by Benjamin Baud and has at its centre a modest domed chapel (in the style of the basilica of St. Peter's in Rome) at it southern end, reached by long colonnades, and flanked by catacombs. The chapel is dated 1839. The site, previously market gardens, was bought from Lord Kensington and is 39 acre in area. The cemetery is designed to give the feel of a large open air cathedral. It is rectangular in shape with the north end pointing to the northwest and the south end to the southeast. It has a central “nave” which runs from Old Brompton Road towards the central colonnade and chapel. Below the colonnades are catacombs which were originally conceived as a cheaper alternative burial to having a plot in the grounds of the cemetery. Unfortunately, the catacombs were not a success and only about 500 of the many thousands of places in them were sold. There is also an entrance on the south side from the Fulham Road. The Metropolitan Interments Act 1850 gave the government powers to purchase commercial cemeteries. The shareholders of the cemetery were relieved to be able to sell their shares as the cost of building the cemetery had over run and they had seen little return on their investment.
It is listed as Grade II* in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England and five of the individual monuments are listed as Grade II.
Beatrix Potter, who lived in The Boltons nearby, took the names of many of her animal characters from tombstones in the cemetery and it is said that Mr. McGregor's walled garden was based on the colonnades. Names on headstones included Mr. Nutkins, Mr. McGregor, a Tod (with that unusual single 'd' spelling), Jeremiah Fisher, Tommy Brock - and even a Peter Rabbett.
The cemetery is today a cruising ground popular with West London's gay men scene.
Brompton Cemetery has featured in a number of films, including David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises (starring Viggo Mortensen), The Wisdom of Crocodiles (Jude Law), Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009 film) (also with Jude Law) as the location of 'Lord Blackwood's Tomb', Crush (Imelda Staunton and Andie MacDowell), Stormbreaker (starring Alex Pettyfer, Ewan McGregor, Stephen Fry and Mickey Rourke), Finding Neverland (starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet) and Johnny English (starring Rowan Atkinson); as well as being used as a location by photographers such as Bruce Weber (see "The Chop Suey Club").
Famous occupants of the cemetery include:
- Tomasz Arciszewski - Polish socialist politician
- James Atkinson - surgeon, artist and Persian scholar
- William Edward Ayrton - British physicist
- Samuel Baker - explorer
- Sir Squire Bancroft - actor and theatre impresario
- Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh - Russian Orthodox émigré metropolitan archbishop and author*
- Joseph Bonomi the Younger - sculptor, artist, Egyptologist and museum curator
- George Borrow - author, traveller and linguist
- Fanny Brawne - John Keats' muse. She is buried under her married name, Frances Lindon.
- Sir James Browne - engineer
- Francis Trevelyan Buckland - zoologist
- Henry James Byron - actor and dramatist
- William Martin Cafe - Indian Mutiny hero and VC recipient
- Marchesa Luisa Casati - infamous Italian quaintrelle, muse, eccentric and patron of the arts
- John Graham Chambers - founder of the Amateur Athletic Association
- Henry Cole - founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal College of Music, the 1851 Great Exhibition and inventor of the Christmas card
- Robert Coombes - champion professional sculler
- Joseph Thomas Clover - pioneer of anaesthesia
- Thomas Crofton Croker - Irish antiquary, devoted to the collection of Irish poetry and folkore
- William Crookes - chemist and physicist
- Samuel Cunard - founder of the Cunard Line
- Thomas Cundy III - British Architect, creator of England's main public buildings, also recorded as Thomas de Candie III.
- Terence Feely - playwright and author
- Charles Fremantle - founded the Swan River Colony (Western Australia)
- Robert Fortune - Scottish Botanist who introduced tea plant from China to India
- John William Godward - painter
- George Godwin - architect, journalist, and editor of The Builder magazine
- George Goldie - "founded" Nigeria
- Brian Glover - television and film actor
- Thomas Hancock - VC recipient (unmarked grave)
- Thomas Helmore - choirmaster and author of books on plainsong
- John Jackson - boxer
- Geraldine Jewsbury - writer
- Mary Anne Keeley - actress
- Robert Keeley - actor and comedian
- William Claude Kirby - first chairman of Chelsea Football Club
- Constant Lambert - composer and conductor
- Kit Lambert - music producer and original manager of The Who
- Percy E. Lambert - racing car driver
- Nat Langham - middleweight bare-knuckle fighter
- Frederick Richards Leyland - Liverpool shipowner and art collector
- Bernard Levin - journalist, author and broadcaster
- Archibald Low - Inventor and author of science books
- Henry McGee - actor
- Henry Augustus Mears - founder of Chelsea Football Club
- Lionel Monckton – composer of Edwardian Musical Comedies
- Henrietta Moraes - writer, artist's model and muse to Francis Bacon
- Roderick Murchison - geologist, originator of the Silurian system
- Adelaide Neilson - English actress
- William Gustavus Nicholson, 1st Baron Nicholson - First Chief of the Imperial General Staff
- Eugène Oudin - American baritone
- Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan - Anglo-Irish writer
- Sir William Palliser - Inventor and builder of Barons Court
- Emmeline Pankhurst - Britain's leading suffragette
- Sir John Lysaght Pennefather - British general
- Percy Sinclair Pilcher - inventor and pioneering aviator
- Valentine Cameron Prinsep - Pre-Raphaelite painter
- Fanny Ronalds - American socialite and singer
- Blanche Roosevelt - American opera singer and author
- Tim Rose - American singer-songwriter
- William Howard Russell - journalist and war correspondent
- William Siborne - Army officer and military historian, maker of the Siborne model
- Samuel Smiles - biographer and inventor of "self-help"
- Albert Richard Smith - writer
- John Snow - anaesthetist and epidemiologist, who demonstrated the link between cholera and infected water
- H.F. Stephens - light railway pioneer
- Robert Story, poet originally from Northumberland
- Fred Sullivan, Thomas Sullivan and Mary Clementina Sullivan - the brother, father and mother of Arthur Sullivan, composer of Gilbert and Sullivan fame. It was originally planned that Arthur would also be buried there until Queen Victoria insisted on his interment in St Paul's Cathedral.
- Richard Tauber - operatic tenor
- William Terriss - actor
- Ernest Thesiger - character actor in such films as The Old Dark House and Bride of Frankenstein
- Frederic Thesiger, 1st Baron Chelmsford - jurist and statesman
- Frederic Augustus Thesiger, 2nd Baron Chelmsford - Commander-in-Chief in the Zulu War
- Brandon Thomas - author of Charley's Aunt
- Charles Blacker Vignoles - railway engineer, and inventor of the Vignoles rail
- Richard Wadeson - VC recipient
- Edward Wadsworth - artist
- Thomas Attwood Walmisley - composer and organist.
- Sir Robert Warburton - Anglo-Indian soldier and administrator
- Reginald Alexander John Warneford - VC recipient
- Sir Philip Watts - British naval architect, designer of the Elswick cruiser and the HMS Dreadnought.
- Sir Andrew Scott Waugh - British army officer and surveyor, who named the highest mountain in the world after Sir George Everest
- Benjamin Nottingham Webster - actor, theatre manager and playwright.
- Sir Thomas Spencer Wells - surgeon to Queen Victoria, medical professor and president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
- Sir William Fenwick Williams - general, pasha and governor
- John Wisden - cricketer and founder of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
- Bennet Woodcroft - textile manufacturer, industrial archaeologist, pioneer of marine propulsion, prime mover in patent reform and the first clerk to the commissioners of patents
- Thomas Wright - antiquarian and writer
- Johannes Zukertort - chess master
The American Sioux Indian chief, Long Wolf, a veteran of the Sioux wars was buried here on June 13, 1892 having died age 59 of bronchial pneumonia while taking part in the European tour of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. He shared the grave with a 17 month old Indian girl named Star Ghost Dog believed to have fallen from her mother's arms while on horseback. 105 years later a British woman named Elizabeth Knight traced his family and campaigned with them to have his remains returned to the land of his birth. In 1997, Chief Long Wolf was finally moved to a new plot in the Wolf Creek Community Cemetery (ancestral burial ground of the Oglala Sioux tribe) at Pine Ridge, South Dakota. His great grandson John Black Feather said "Back then, they had burials at sea, they did ask his wife if she wanted to take him home and she figured that as soon as they hit the water they would throw him overboard, so that's why they left him here."
Brompton Cemetery is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries, and is adjacent to Stamford Bridge, the home ground of Chelsea Football Club.
- Royal Parks of London
- Meller, Hugh & Brian Parsons, London Cemeteries: an illustrated guide and gazetteer, The History Press, 2008, .
- Beach, Darren, London's Cemeteries, Metro Guides, 2006,
- Culbertson, Judi & Tom Randall, Permanent Londoners: An Illustrated Guide to the Cemeteries of London. Post Mills, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1991.
- Brompton Cemetery (Royal Parks website)
- Recent photos and information on Brompton Cemetery
- Youtube - Brompton Cemetery - Guided Tour - Introductory Talk