London Borough of Lambeth
Greater London England
Postal Code: SE27 9JU
Phone: 020 7926 7999
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
The history of West Norwood Cemetery begins in 1836 during the reign of William IV. It was realised that the churchyards were getting over crowded so new burial grounds had to be sought.
The South Metropolitan cemetery then came into being amidst the fields of the hamlet of Norwood in Surrey and the first burial took place on 12th December 1837 - soon after Queen Victoria arrived on the throne.
One of the first large commercial, inter-denominational cemeteries in London, it opened in 1837. It was designed by William Tite, who planned the Episcopal (Anglican) and Dissenters' (nonconformist) Chapels, both including catacombs beneath, which together could accommodate some 3,500 coffins. Provision was made not only for privately-purchased family graves and vaults, but also for paupers' burials in common graves. The first burial took place five days after the consecration – December 12, 1837. Soon the South Metropolitan became the most fashionable cemetery in south London, known as the ‘Millionaires' Cemetery' from the quality of its mausolea and other elaborate monuments. In 1842 a small enclave was purchased by London's Greek Community. This was subsequently enlarged by further purchases, and a chapel was built. By the early 20th century, the cemetery was becoming largely filled with graves, and even some of the original roadways were used for burials. In 1915 a crematorium and columbarium were installed beside the Dissenters' Chapel. In 1965 the cemetery was compulsorily purchased by Lambeth Council. The importance of the cemetery and the quality of its monuments were emphasized in 1978 when it was included within a conservation area.