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Kensal Green Cemetery in the Twentieth Cemetery

As all records for 1901-1930 have now been added to the Deceased Online database, I conclude the series of posts on Kensal Green Cemetery with a look at its more recent history

After 1900, the Cemetery of All Souls at Kensal Green continued to be a popular burial ground with all classes. Several of the remains buried were of those who died far from London. That year, the popular musician, Henry Russell (1812-1900), was buried beneath a large stone seat, erected in memory of his emotional ballad 'My Old Armchair'. A pianist and baritone singer as well as compose, Russell is perhaps better known today for his work, 'A Life on the Ocean Wave'.

1904 saw the burial of
General Sir Collingwood Dickson (1817-1904), who was awarded the Victoria Cross in the Crimean War for his courage at the Siege of Sebastopol on 17 October 1854. 

The Mausoleum of the Duke of Cambridge

Above is the striking Egyptian-style Mausoleum of Prince George William Frederick Charles, 2nd Duke of Cambridge (1819–1904). A grandson of King George III, the Duke's father was Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge. Like the present Duke, Prince William, Cambridge served as an army officer. After becoming the 2nd Duke of Cambridge in 1850, he served as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army from 1856 to 1895.

Above is the burial entry of Henry Silver (1828-1910), who was buried at Kensal Green with his beloved wife and cousin, Blanche Renouf (d. 1907). Silver was well-known in the 19th century as a contributing comic journalist of the humorous magazine, Punch, from 1848. He sat at the famous Punch Table between 1857 and 1870.

Unlike his fellow contributor and Charterhouse schoolfriend, William Makepeace Thackeray, Silver was a shy, modest man whose private life was virtually unknown to his colleagues. Born in Woodbridge in Suffolk, Silver began his working life as a solicitor. He went on to use these skills to help the governing board of the Royal Free Hospital. He lived a quiet life with his wife, Blanche, and had no children. Outliving almost all of his associates from the magazine, Silver died at the grand age of 82.

Despite feeling inferior to the wits at the Punch Table, Silver became richer than all of them. His vast fortune was only discovered after his death on 3 December 1910. The contents of his will revealed an estate of £1,197,867 0s. 7d., which today would be worth more than £68 million. Silver left large bequests to the Royal Free Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital for Children, the Hospital for Children, the West London Workshops for the Blind, Punch, his wife's nurse, and his alma mater, Charterhouse School.

The Times was as surprised at this revelation as everyone else, commenting "Even those who were intimately associated with Mr. Silver and with Punch had no idea that he possessed such wealth. His initials H. S. are carved on the Punch Table between the monogram O.S. (Owen Seaman) and the Hy.F. (Harry Furniss)." Amongst the artifacts Silver left to Punch, was his diary of the Table dinners from 1858-70. This is now in the possession of the British Library.

Silver is not the only Punch contributor to lie in Kensal Green. Besides Thackeray, there are also the illustrators, John Tenniel (1820-1914) and John Leech (1817-1864). 

Editorial meeting of Punch magazine (circa 1890-1896). John Tenniel is fifth from left.
Other notable people who were buried at Kensal Green in the twentieth century include:
  • George Grossmith (1847-1912) - comedian, singer and co-author of The Diary of a Nobody
  • Marigold France Churchill (1918-21) - infant daughter of Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine
  • Maj Gen Sir Owen Edward Pennyfeather Lloyd (1854-1941) - Surgeon Major AMS, awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery under fire during the Kachin Expedition of 1893 in Burma; Lloyd, who died in Sussex, was also a big game hunter (renowned for killing 150 head of game in one day)
  • Sir Terence Mervyn Rattigan (1911-77) - one of the most significant playwrights and screenwriters of the 20th century; Rattigan died in Bermuda, but his cremated remains were deposited in the family vault at Kensal Green.
Entry for George Grossmith in the burial register of Kensal Green Cemetery

West London Crematorium was built at the south-western end of the cemetery and opened in 1939. Designed by G. Berkeley Wills, the crematorium sits in the beautiful Garden of Remembrance and is laid out in the form of a cemetery with headstones. There are two chapels, East and West.

Like another Magnificent Seven cemetery on the database, Brompton Cemetery, Kensal Green is a conservation area and its 77 acres offer a pleasant escape from nearby city roads.

Visitors are welcome at the cemetery and can enter by one of two gates, both on Harrow Road: the Top Gate (near Kensal Green Underground Station) and the Main Gate (near Ladbroke Grove). The cemetery is open every day (until 5pm in Winter and 6pm in Summer).

The Memorial Park of West London Crematorium
The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery, an independent charity dedicated to the preservation of Kensal Green, offers a two-hour introductory tour of the cemetery every Sunday from the beginning of March to the end of October, and the first and third Sunday only in November, December, January and February. The Friends also hold special events, including an annual Open Day.

We're really pleased that so many of you have found ancestors in our Kensal Green collection. Do let us know via our Twitter or Facebook pages if you have visited the cemetery or have anything you would like to share about family members who are buried there. 

Henry Silver 
The Times (London, England), Tuesday, Dec 20, 1910; pg. 10; Issue 39460.  
General Cemetery Company 


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