Skip to main content

Highgate Cemetery News

Modern burial ideas are drawing on experiences of the past


On 16 October 2018, the Chief Executive of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery's Dr Ian Dungavell was interviewed on BBC Radio London's Vanessa Feltz programme to discuss ideas to create more burial space. The programme discussed how to find room for future generations of Londoners while maintaining all that is special about the cemetery.

Surprisingly, this is not a new concept. Before the 19th century, particularly during the medieval period, social norms allowed for old graves to be exhumed in order that space would be freed for new burials. The remains were transferred to charnel houses (bone stores). Examples of these can be found across the country, such as in Spitalfields, London

The news was also reported in The Telegraph with a warning that there will be no space for full-sized graves (and thus coffin burials) by 2024. Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust have completed a consultation on plans to reclaim empty plots bought more than 100 years ago, that have not been used.

The consultation also suggests, “There is no reason that future interments need to be full coffin burials. There may be other ways of using vacant spaces, including for cremation burials.”

Dr Dungavell reassures cemetery users and relatives that, "We would never say how someone should choose to be remembered, but we want to consider how we can make the room we have work best.  . . Nationally about 75 per cent of people are now cremated, rather than buried. Obviously being buried in a coffin takes up more space where we could maybe have four cremated remains - which is more space efficient.” 
Perhaps the most famous grave in Highgate Cemetery belongs to Karl Marx
Following on from the consultation, Highgate Cemetery is now applying for an act of parliament allowing for the cancellation of burial rights bought in the 19th century and never used. The cemetery believes this was free up 400-600 plots, which would allow the cemetery to continue as a working burial site.

Search existing Highgate Cemetery records using the Deceased Online website. The collection includes digital scans of original registers, grave details indicating all those buried in each grave, and section location maps for graves (unfortunately, maps for a few graves are not available).

Do you have any views on Highgate Cemetery's consultation? Are your ancestors buried there? Let us know your opinions in the Comments Box below, or via our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

London's Spa Fields

Deceased Online has just uploaded around 114,000 burial records from Spa Fields in the modern London borough of Islington Spa Fields today, with the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer in the background Spa Fields Burial Ground became notorious in the 19th century for its overcrowded and insanitary conditions. Located in the parish of St James, Clerkenwell, the grave yard was not far from the ever-increasing City of London. Spa Fields was known also as Clerkenwell Fields and Ducking-pond Fields in the late 18th century, hinting at a dark side to what was then a summer evening resort for north Londoners. What would become a cemetery was a ducking pond in the rural grounds of a Spa Fields public house. It was here in 1683 that six children were drowned while playing on the ice. In his History of Clerkenwell (1865) William J. Pinks wrote that visitors, "came hither to witness the rude sports that were in vogue a century ago, such as duck-hunting, prize-fighting, bull-baiting

Nottingham Collection

This week, Deceased Online expands its Nottingham Collection with the addition of records from the early Victorian cemetery, Nottingham General. Enter Nottingham's General Cemetery from Canning Terrace and be prepared to step back in time to the late 19th century. Like many of the Victorian cemeteries in the Deceased Online collections, Nottingham General was designed to take the burden from parish churches whose graveyards had become overcrowded. Also, like many other Victorian cemeteries, this was administered by a newly-formed body, the Nottingham General Cemetery Company (1836) . The Grade II listed gatehouse , the chapel and the adjacent almshouses were built between 1836 and 1838 by S. S. Rawlinson . Burial registers were kept from the opening date of cemetery in 1838. Concerns were raised in the 1920s that this municipal cemetery was now overcrowded and from 1929 the cemetery was closed to new burials other than those who owned burial rights. Headstones in

Churck (Rock) Cemetery, Nottingham

Coming soon to the Deceased Online database: two historic cemeteries from Nottingham City Council to add to the Nottingham Collection . This week, I explore the history of the renowned Church Cemetery (also known as the Rock Cemetery) . At first glance, the modern visitor to Nottingham's Church Cemetery may think they have wandered into Kensal Green , or another of London's Magnificent Seven cemeteries. The 13 acre site abounds with the kind of gothic stone monuments and large sarcophogi with which the mid-Victorians liked to remember their dead. Yet look harder and you will find something unique to Nottingham - sandstone caves. Since the middle ages, the area around Nottingham was quarried for its sandstone, now known by the name of a nearby village as "Bulwell sandstone". From 1851, after the cemetery was laid out on the former sandpits, local people grew to know it simply as "The Rock".  Church Cemetery Otherwise known as the Rock Cemetery on a