All records for Kensal Green Cemetery and West London Crematorium are now available to search on the database
From this week, all 330,000 records for Kensal Green Cenetery and West London Crematorium can be searched on Deceased Online. They include all burial and cremation records from 1833 to 2010. This release heralds the exclusive digitisation of records on the site from two of the 'Magnificent Seven' cemeteries. And we have more to come soon. Watch this space!
Among the famous names included in this latest release of records is the iconic sixties and seventies designer, Ossie Clark (1942-1996). Immortalized in the 1971 painting (above), Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, by his friend, David Hockney, Clark dressed Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Liza Minnelli and the Beatles. His clothes are still highly sought after, with his vintage designs being worn by Kate Moss and other modern trend-setters. Clark's style continues to influence designers sich as Anna Sui, Christian Lacroix and Prada. Tragically, Clark was stabbed to death by his former lover in 1996.
Other well-known people to feature in the collection are the great playwrights and screenwriters, Harold Pinter (1930-2008) and Sir Terence Rattigan (1911-1977). Rattigan died in Bermuda, but his cremated remains were deposited in the family vault at Kensal Green. Pinter's love of stagecraft continued into death, as he left detailed instructions for his funeral ceremony. Readers at the service included Michael Gambon, who recited from Pinter's play, No Man's Land.
West London Crematorium was built for the General Cemetery Company in 1938 at the south-western end of the cemetery. The Rt Hon. Thomas Jeeves Horder (1871-1955), Chairman of the Cremation Society, officially opened the crematorium in 1939. West London was one of seven crematoria to open that year. Designed by Gerald Berkeley Wills (1882-1979), the crematorium sits in the extensive memorial gardens and is laid out in the form of a cemetery with headstones. There are two chapels, East and West, which were built at the same time as the central building. Interestingly, the West Chapel was only fitted to hold ceremonies in 1996.
|West London Crematorium|
This image (above) shows the front of the crematorium, with its entrance hall, glass ceiling and ionic columns.
The names of several well-known people are found in the cremation records. In some cases, although the cremation took place in West London, the ashes were removed. Beautiful movie star, Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982), was cremated at the West London Crematorium in 1982, but her ashes were subsequently taken to her native Sweden. Some were scattered at her beloved holiday home near Dannholmen, while the remainder were buried next to her parents' grave in Stockholm.
|Publicity shot of Ingrid Bergman (1940)|
|Burial entry for Ingrid Bergman|
Other notable people who were cremated in West London include the singer, Freddie Mercury (1946-1991), and Major Herbert Walter James (1888-1958), who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery at Gallipoli. Major James' death was reported in The Times on 16 August 1958 as follows:
'He won the Victoria Cross for
conspicuous bravery during the operations
in the southern zone of the Gallipoi penin-
sula on June 28, 1915. when serving with
the 4th Battalion, The Worcestershire Regi-
ment. When a portion of a regiment had
been checked, because all the officers had
been put out of action, Second Lieutenant
James, who belonged to a neighbouring
unit, on his own initiative gathered together
a body of men and led them forward under
heavy shell and rifle fire. He then returned,
organized a second party, and again
On July 3, in the same locality, he headed
a party of bomb throwers up a Turkish
communication trench, and after nearly all
his men had been killed or wounded,
remained alone at the head of the trench and
kept back the enemy single-handed until a
barrier had been built behind him and the
trench secured. "He was throughout
exposed to murderous fire."
He was twice wounded and was in
hospital in Egypt and in England before
going out to France. He was wounded a
third time at the Battle of the Somme.'
The funeral of Major James (pictured above around the time oft he First World War) took place at the church of St Mary Abbot's in Kensington on Wednesday 20 August, with the cremation following. The burial entry below shows that his ashes were "Scattered" in the grounds.
This is the last post in our series on Kensal Green Cemetery and West London Crematorium, but we would love to hear of any of your ancestors or other interesting people whose records you have found in the collection. Do leave a comment in the box below, or contact us via our Facebook or Twitter pages!
"Maj. Herbert James, V.C." Times [London, England] 16 Aug. 1958: 8. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 31 Jan. 2014.