Brompton Cemetery, at 39 acres (16 hectares) is one of London’s largest burial places. London Haunts and Horrors visited today for a tour by the Friends of Brompton Cemetery.
Rainy days are good for visiting cemeteries. Not actually pleasant weather to be wandering around outside but if you want a haunting atmosphere in graveyard, overcast and rainy conditions certainly deliver that in spades.
The Friends of Brompton Cemetery run regular guided tours on Sundays – a perfect opportunity for London Haunts and Horrors meetup group to learn about this fascinating historical burial place.
The Brompton Cemetery was consecrated in June 1840 as The West of London and Westminster Cemetery when it was decided the churchyards in central London were getting too full and it could be causing a health hazard. Brompton is part of the “Magnificent Seven” set of cemeteries that were built at that time, which were known for their grandeur, including the likes of Highgate Cemetery and Kensal Green.
READ: England’s 10 Most Notable Graves
Originally privately owned, Brompton was nationalised when the governments of the day decided that burials were too important to be done in private hands. However, only Brompton Cemetery – which was under financial difficultly from going over budget – allowed itself to be bought out. It is the only one of the “Magnificent Seven” which is publicly-owned and is now run by Royal Parks.
The 39-acre (16 hectare) site lies between Old Brompton and Fulham Roads, on the western border of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It’s still a working cemetery and there have been about 200,000 people interred there in the past 173 years.
Some interesting people buried at the cemetery include:
- Emmeline Pankhurst (1852-1928) Suffragette leader
- John Wisden (1826-1884) Champion cricket and found of Wisden’s Almanac
- Ernest Thesiger (1871-1969) actor (The Old Dark House, Bride of Frankenstein, The Ghoul)
- Dr John Snow (1813-1858) Pioneer anaesthetist and cholera cause discoverer
- Samuel Leigh Sotheby (1805-1868) Auctioneer
The layout of the cemetery is impressive with long, wide straight avenues stretching for almost the entire length of the property. While it is a little unkempt in parts, the graves are generally neat and it is easy to get around.
While the wet weather today wasn’t particularly fun, our guide was fun and engaging and everyone enjoyed themselves.
Brompton Cemetery doesn’t have the haunting feel of, say, Highgate Cemetery, as it is quite wide open and airy, but its monuments are just as impressive and well worth a look. I thoroughly recommend the tour if you are ever in the area.
Friends of Brompton Cemetery hold regular Sunday afternoon guided tours. Find out more at their website here.