Kensal Green Cemetery in London
Kensal Green Cemetery is a cemetery in Kensal Green, in the west of London, England. It was immortalised in the lines of G. K. Chesterton's poem The Rolling English Road from his book The Flying Inn: "For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen; Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green."
The cemetery is located in the London Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, and its main entrance is located on Harrow Road (near the junction with Ladbroke Grove and Chamberlayne Road). The cemetery can also be entered through the West Gate (near the junction with Greyhound Road), which is also the entrance to the West London Crematorium (owned and operated by the same company that owns and operates Kensal Green Cemetery) and St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery. The cemetery lies between Harrow Road and the Grand Union Canal.
Founded as the General Cemetery of All Souls, Kensal Green, the cemetery was incorporated in 1832 (the year that profit-making cemeteries became legal) as a private company and is the first and therefore oldest of the 'Magnificent Seven' cemeteries. Kensal Green Cemetery was consecrated on 24 January 1833 by the Bishop of London. It is still in operation today and is still run by the General Cemetery Company under its original Act of Parliament. This mandates that bodies there may not be exhumed and cremated or the land sold for development. Once the cemetery has exhausted all its interment space and can no longer function as a cemetery, the mandate requires that it remains a memorial park. The General Cemetery Company constructed and runs the West London Crematorium within the grounds of Kensal Green Cemetery. More cremations than earth interments take place these days.
Whilst borrowing from the ideals established at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris some years before, Kensal Green Cemetery contributed to the design and management basis for many cemetery projects throughout the British Empire of the time. In Australia for example The Necropolis at Rookwood (1868) and Waverley Cemetery (1877), both in Sydney, are noted for their use of the "gardenesque" landscape qualities and importantly self-sustaining management structures championed by The General Cemetery Company.
The cemetery is the burial site of approximately 250,000 individuals in 65,000 graves, including upwards of 500 members of the British nobility and 550 people listed in the Dictionary of National Biography. A garden style cemetery, Kensal Green is the oldest of seven private Victorian cemeteries located in the outskirts of London. Adjacent to Kensal Green Cemetery is St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery.
Many monuments, particularly the larger ones, lean precariously as they have settled over time on the underlying London clay.
Many buildings and structures within Kensal Green are listed. The Anglican Chapel is listed grade I, while the non-conformist Mortuary Chapel, colonnade/catacomb and perimeter walls and railings are listed grade II or II*. Of the many tombs, memorials and mausoleums, eight are listed grade II*. The Anglican Chapel is at the centre of the cemetery, and contains several tombs. Under the chapel is a catacomb, one of the few in London, the catacomb is currently not maintained but can be visited as part of a guided tour. It still has a working coffin-lift or catafalque, restored by the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery 1997.
Interred at Kensal Green is Marigold Frances Churchill, the daughter of Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Clementine, who died from a fever in 1921 at age three (the monument by Eric Gill was listed Grade II in 2001).
Other notable burials
- Henry Ainley (1879–1945), actor
- Harrison Ainsworth (1805–1882), author
- Thomas Allom (1804–1872), artist and architect
- Frederick Scott Archer (1813–1857), sculptor, photographer. Inventor of the Collodion process.
- Charles Babbage (1791–1871), mathematician, computer scientist
- Reverend Baden Powell, father of Robert and Agnes Baden-Powell
- George Percy Badger (1815–1888), English Anglican missionary and scholar of oriental studies
- Michael William Balfe (1808–1870), composer
- Frederick Settle Barff (1822-1866), chemist, inventor of Bower–Barff process
- James Barry (1795–1865), surgeon
- George Birkbeck (1776–1841), doctor, academic and adult education pioneer
- Julius Benedict (1804–1885), composer
- Charles Blondin (1824–1897), acrobat, tightrope-walker
- Sir George Ferguson Bowen (1821–1899), colonial administrator and 9th Governor of Hong Kong
- Lady Diamantina Bowen (c. 1832/1833–1893), grand dame
- John Braham (1774–1856), singer
- George Bridgetower (1782–1860), West Indian-Polish violin virtuoso and friend of Beethoven
- Louis de la Bourdonnais (1795–1840), chess master
- Robert Brown (botanist) (1773–1858), botanist, discoverer of Brownian motion
- Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806–1859), engineer, son of Marc Isambard Brunel and Sophia Kingdom (also buried here)
- Marc Isambard Brunel (1769–1849), engineer, father of Isambard
- George Busk (1807–1886), naval surgeon, zoologist and palaeontologist
- Sir Augustus Wall Callcott (1779–1844), painter
- Lady Maria Callcott (1785–1842), travel writer
- John Edward Carew (1785–1868), sculptor
- Anthony Carlisle (1768–1840), surgeon and scientist
- Sir Ernest Cassel (1852–1921), merchant banker
- Wilkie Collins (1824–1889), author
- James Dark (1795–1871), proprietor of Lord's Cricket Ground
- Andrew Ducrow (1793–1842), circus performer and horse-rider
- Willie Edouin (1841–1908), comedian, actor and theatre manager
- Sir George Elliot (1784–1863), naval officer (not to be confused with George Eliot)
- Hugh Falconer (1808–1865), naturalist
- Edward Francis Fitzwilliam (1824–1857), composer
- Fanny Fitzwilliam (1801–1854), actress, singer and theatre manager
- Henri Jean-Baptiste Victoire Fradelle (1778–1865), Franco-English Victorian painter
- Erich Fried (1921–1988), Austrian poet and essayist
- Marcus Garvey (1887–1940), black nationalist (subsequently exhumed and buried in Jamaica)
- Bill George (1802–1881), Victorian dog dealer
- Thomas Hood (1799–1845), poet, humorist and journalist
- Philip Hardwick (1792–1870), architect
- Philip Charles Hardwick (1822–1892), architect
- Catherine Hayes (1818–1861), opera singer
- James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784–1859), Romantic critic, essayist and poet
- Charles Kemble (1775–1854), actor and theatre manager
- Fanny Kemble (1809–1893), famous British actress and author
- Halina Korn (1902–1978), Polish painter and sculptor
- Marian Kukiel, (1885–1973) Polish General and MOD in exile during World War II
- William Garrett Lewis (b. before 1834; d. 1885) pastor of Westbourne Grove Church
- John Claudius Loudon, (1783 – 1843), Scottish botanist and writer on cemeteries
- John Graham Lough (1789–1876) , sculptor
- Alexander McDonnell (1798–1835), chess master
- Richard Graves MacDonnell (1814–1881), colonial administrator and 6th Governor of Hong Kong
- William Macready (1793–1873), actor
- Edward Maltby, bishop of Durham
- Kitty Melrose (1883–1912), actress
- Ras Andargachew Messai (1902–1981), Ethiopian ruler
- John Maddison Morton (1811–1891), playwright
- John Lothrop Motley (1814–1877), American historian
- John Trivett Nettleship (1841–1902), painter and author
- Robert Owen (cenotaph only) (1771–1858), industrialist and major social reformer
- John Thomas Perceval (1803–1876), army officer, writer and campaigner
- Harold Pinter (1930–2008), playwright, actor, director, screenwriter, poet and political activist
- Steve Peregrin Took (1949–1980), English musician and songwriter (best known as a founder member of Tyrannosaurus Rex)
- Frederic Hervey Foster Quin (1799–1878), physician
- Sir Terence Rattigan (1911–1979), playwright
- John Wigham Richardson (1837–1908), shipbuilder
- Henry Sandham (1842–1910), artist
- Byam Shaw (1872–1919), artist
- John Shaw, Jr (1803–1870), architect and brother-in-law of Philip Hardwick listed above
- Sir William Siemens (1823–1883), industrialist
- Robert William Sievier (1794–1865), sculptor (also member of Cemetery board)
- John Mark Frederick Smith (1790–1874), British Army general
- William Henry Smith (1792–1865), businessman
- Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki (1797–1873), Polish explorer (exhumed 1997 and returned to Krypta Zasłużonych (the crypt of meritorious citizens) in Poland)
- Dwarkanath Tagore (1794–1846), Bengali industrialist and benefactor
- William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863), writer
- Lydia Thompson (1838–1908), dancer and actress
- Thérèse Tietjens (1831–1877), opera singer
- Anthony Trollope (1815–1882), novelist
- Sir Thomas Troubridge, 3rd Baronet (1815–1867), British army officer
- J. Stuart Russell (1816–1895), theologian and author
- William Vincent Wallace (1812–1865), composer
- Thomas Wakley (1795–1862), surgeon, campaigner and founder of The Lancet
- John William Waterhouse (1849–1917), artist
- John Whichcord Jr. (1823–1885), architect
- Jane Williams (1798–1884), subject of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley
- Alfred Wigan (1814–1878), actor-manager
- Erasmus Augustus Worthington (1791–1880), artist and author
- Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex and son of King George III of the United Kingdom
- Princess Sophia, sister of Prince Augustus Frederick and daughter of King George III.
- Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, grandson of George III and commander-in-chief of the British Army
- Freddie Mercury (1946–1991), singer of Queen (ashes reputedly scattered on the shores of Lake Geneva, near Montreux, Switzerland where a statue commemorates him)
- Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982), actress (most of her ashes were scattered around the islet of Dannholmen off the fishing village of Fjällbacka on the west coast of Sweden where she spent most summers from 1958 to her death in 1982, with the remainder of her ashes buried at Norra begravningsplatsen in Stockholm, Sweden next to her parents)
- Poets' Graves
- Dissenters' Chapel, Kensal Green
- The Official Website of Kensal Green Cemetery.
- Friends of the Cemetery.
- Cemeteries of Britain.
- London's Victorian Garden Cemeteries.
- Recent photos (including the 2007 openday) and information on Kensal Green Cemetery.