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Camberwell New Cemetery

 

General history

 

Camberwell New Cemetery is Metropolitan Open Land and a Grade 2 Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation on the South London Green Chain Walk.

 

The 68 acre site lies at the southern end of the London Borough of Southwark between Brenchley Gardens to the north-west and Honor Oak Park station to the south.

 

The first two lots of 56 acres were bought in 1901 from local farmer and landowner Alfred Stevens who owned and a third 12 acres from the Governors of Christ’s Hospital.

 

The site was then largely used for other purposes including a fireworks factory, the Council’s plant nursery (now both demolished) and a golf club.

 

Around 30 acres make up Honor Oak Recreation Ground which local residents fought to save in 2012 but which Southwark Council still has earmarked for burial plots.

 

The New Cemetery is largely Church of England consecrated ground with a small section set aside for Free Churches. It opened in 1926 with the first interment in 1927.

 

The Lodge, waiting rooms and mortuary chapel were designed by the architect Sir Aston Webb and his son Maurice, who also designed the Grade II listed 1939 crematorium.

 

The New Cemetery also includes the eastern slopes of One Tree Hill – native broadleaf secondary woodland bordering the One Tree Hill Nature Reserve, according to Sir John Betjeman the best view of London.

 

Southwark Council’s development

 

As the site has filled up, Southwark Council has gradually taken more of the Metropolitan Open Land for burial plots. There have been a series of new burial extensions, including in 1996 and 2000 to the south-east side of the site. As a result of these, remedial works have had to be carried out to the embankment to Honor Oak Park Station by Southwark Council.

 

Under its 2012 Cemetery Strategy, the following areas are now at risk of development:

 

Area D1: Half an acre of virgin woodland on One Tree Hill on the west, cutting down 26-60 trees including eight oaks for 145 burial plots, less than nine months’ burial, on a one in seven steep slope.

 

Area D2: Public graves and meadows to the north of D1, also on a sloping site.

 

Area B: The old plant nursery and fireworks factory three acre site once promised for community amenity use, creating a two metre high mound above ground level.

Honor Oak Recreation Ground: 30 acres of social amenity space.

 

Some of the notable graves

 

George Cornell: East end gangster famously shot by the Kray twins in 1966 at The Blind Beggar public house

 

According to Cockney Pride On 9 March 1966, Cornell and his friend Albie Woods entered the saloon bar of the Blind Beggar pub, ordered some light ales and then sat upon stools next to the bar. At around 8:30pm, both men were approached by Ronnie Kray; on seeing him, Cornell sneered with sarcasm "Look who's here".

 

Ronnie Kray walked towards Cornell, took out a 9 mm Luger, and calmly shot him once in the forehead, just above his right eye. Cornell slumped against a nearby pillar, the bullet, apparently, passing straight through him. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died at around 03:30 a.m.

 

The news spread rapidly. Although Ronnie Kray was identified by several eyewitnesses as he calmly left the public house, no one would agree to testify against him and the police were forced to release him from custody. Cornell was buried in Camberwell New Cemetery, South London.

 

General Frederick Coutts (1899-1986): Salvation Army General

 

He was born in Kirkcaldy Scotland the son of corps officers. In 1920, he became an Officer of The Salvation Army. He served in divisional work in the British Territory from 1921 to 1925, when he became a Corps Officer of the British Territory. He would serve as Corps Officer of the British Territory for 10 years.

 

In December 1963, Frederick Coutts was elected by the High Council of The Salvation Army as General of the Army. He received a CBE in 1967. He is the author of many books and died at the age of 86.

 

General Wilfred Kitching (1893-1977): Salvation Army General

 

The Commissioner was elected General of The Salvation Army by the High Council in 1954 until 1963. During his years as an officer, he wrote many songs in The Salvation Army song book. In 1961, he was awarded a Hon. LLD in Yonsei, Korea, and CBE in 1964. He also wrote two books, Soldier of Salvation, which came out in 1963, and his autobiography, entitled A Goodly Heritage, which came out in 1967. He died at the age of 84.

 

Freddie Mills 1919-1965: world light heavyweight boxing champion from 1948 to 1950

 

For 20 years Freddie Mills was one of the best-loved figures in British sport. Crowned light-heavyweight champion of the world in 1948, he was a colourful fighter who seemed impervious to pain. What Mills lacked in skill, he more than made up for with aggression and courage. Even after hanging up his gloves to become a club owner and promoter, he remained a darling of the media and a hero to millions.

 

In July 1965, Mills was found slumped in the back of his car in a Soho alleyway. He had been shot in the head and a small calibre rifle was resting between his knees. His family and many of his closest friends - who included numerous celebrities and major criminals, including the Kray twins - were convinced he had been murdered, but police ruled his death a suicide.

 

William Pullum 1887-1960: World weight-lifting champion

 

William ‘Bill’ Albert Pullum was known as "The wizard of weight-lifting" and “the pillar of strength”.

 

Born in London, his early life was marked by sickness and disease. At the age of 17, he saw the famous Arthur Saxon Strongman Trio perform and immediately decided to take up weightlifting to improve his condition.

In less than a year, he achieved a 2-hands-anyhow lift of 204 pounds and was later the technical advisor for the British Amateur Weight-Lifting Association (BAWLA).

 

During the 1920's, he was a trainer, helped promote the sport of weight lighting and was the author of two great strength books which are still available almost a century after they were originally written. Over the course of his career, he won 15 Championships, 50 Gold Medals and set over 200 British and World's weight lifting records. (bio by: John "J-Cat" Griffith) Plot: Area 56, Number 13005

 

Johnny Trunley (1898-1944): A local celebrity who appeared on stage with Fred Karno in the early 20th century as a "fat boy", weighing 33 stone by age 18, the heaviest person in Britain.

 

John Trunley was a colourful character and a celebrity of his time. He was born in Colegrove Road on October 14, 1898 weighing just under 9lbs but not long after his extraordinary growth started.

 

At age six as a result of the Children's Act he had to leave well-paid work touring with Fred Karno, Charlie Chaplin and Buffalo Bill to go to Reddins School in Peckham.

 

He was a hit in the movies at the same time as World Heavyweight Champ, having defeated the all American hero Jack Dempsey twice.

 

On exiting an air raid shelter on September 30, 1944 he collapsed and was rushed to hospital where he later died from pulmonary tuberculosis, with attendance at his funeral in its hundreds.

 

War Graves

 

In addition to one grave from the First World War, there are 198 Second World War Commonwealth service war graves, around 80 of which are in a war graves plot in Squares 91 and 92.

 

A Screen Wall memorial lists around 120 whose graves could not be marked by headstones, and 56 other service personnel who were cremated at the crematorium.

 

In Camberwell New Cemetery, a headstone stands at the head of an arborial arch (see photograph above). The two walls on either side form a memorial to 400 civilians from the Second World War (1939-1945) "who are interred in the cemetery and have no marked graves".

6 SAVE SOUTHWARK WOODS LOGO

A brief guide to Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries

East Dulwich and Honor Oak

 

All graves over 75 years old are at risk, common graves to be mounded over, private graves excavated, memorials and headstones removed and sold as new burial plots.

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ITV News report, 13th January 2016

These tranquil havens with their sublime combination of nature and history are rare landscapes for London and of huge benefit to people, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

 

The burial registers of Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries reveal large numbers of common graves. Since most of the graves have no marker, they can be difficult to find. However, by using the name search on Deceased Online and identifying the common grave on their map, you can locate your relatives.

 

Local community residents’ campaign group Save Southwark Woods is fighting to save the beauty, nature and history with respect for the dead and woods for the living.

 

More than 10,000 people have signed the petition to save the woods and graves, including more than 3,500 Southwark residents, London mayoral candidates, Tony Juniper, Bianca Jagger and many others.

 

We hope you enjoy visiting and experiencing the nature, history and tranquillity of the Camberwell Cemeteries.

 

 

Camberwell Old Cemetery

 

General history

 

Camberwell Old Cemetery is Metropolitan Open Land and a Grade 1 Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation on the South London Green Chain Walk. The 30 acre site lies at the southern end of the London Borough of Southwark between Forest HillRoad and Underhill Road in East Dulwich and was originally meadow land.

 

The Old Cemetery was bought by the Camberwell Cemetery Board in 1855 to expand burial space for the Parish of St Giles Camberwell three miles away.

 

It is a mixture of consecrated and unconsecrated ground and opened in 1856. Over 300,000 people are buried in a mixture of private and public, paupers’ or common graves and it is now owned and managed by Southwark Council.

 

The Gothic Revival Gate Lodge at the Forest Hill Road entrance, and two of the three chapels now demolished, were designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott’s architectural practice (St Pancras Station, the Albert Memorial).

 

The Grade II listed Gate Lodge was used for the film Entertaining Mr Sloane. It was sold by the Council in the 1990s in disrepair. Restored by its new owners, it is now a private house.

 

On 1st and 21st July 1944 V1 flying bombs landed in the cemetery, damaging surrounding properties but without casualties.

 

Southwark Council’s development

 

The Old Cemetery was effectively closed in the 1980s as all but full. But due to a recent change of law in it has been reopened.

 

In 2012, Southwark Council voted for a Cemetery Strategy to exploit the new law which allows the excavation or mounding over of graves over 75 years old.

 

The Council is now in the middle of the largest grave excavation and grave ‘reuse’ programme in UK history.

 

There are (or were) around 12 acres of biodiverse native broadleaf woodland in the Old Cemetery. Southwark Council are felling most of these woods for new burial areas.  

 

In 2013, an ancient hawthorn hedgerow and meadows along Woodvale on the southern boundary were removed to mound over thousands of public graves for new private burial plots.

 

In late 2015, Southwark Council changed the Tree Preservation Order of the Old Cemetery from a Woodland TPO covering the whole site to individual or group TPOs protecting fewer than one in ten of its trees.

 

In February 2016, two more acres of woods and meadows, hundreds of trees, in the north-west corner (Area Z) were clear felled by Southwark Council. Southwark Council is currently mounding over the graves of 48,000 of London’s poor for new private burial plots.

 

Woods and graves at risk

 

A further ten acres of biodiverse woods are still at risk at the current time, along with all graves over 75 years old.

Next is planned the excavation of all private graves over 75 years old, with headstones removed and eventually disposed of.

The site experiences regular waterlogging and drainage issues to both old and new graves, due largely to the fact that it sits on a thick layer of London clay.

Removing hundreds of trees for new burial plots will remove their contribution to surface water management.

 

 

Some of the notable graves

 

Able Seaman Albert Edward McKenzie VC: awarded the Victoria Cross in the Zeebrugge Raid.

 

He was 19 when he was awarded the Victoria Cross for actions during the First World War raid on Zeebrugge. He was presented with his medal by King George V at Buckingham Palace.

 

Sadly he died a year later in October 1918 aged just 20, of influenza during the great 'flu pandemic.

 

A statue in honour of Albert McKenzie VC was unveiled on 23rd October 2015, (the 117th anniversary of his birth), at the junction of Tower Bridge Road, Decima Street and Bermondsey Street in the London Borough of Southwark.

 

William Stanlake VC: awarded the Victoria Cross in the Battle of Inkerman, died 1904. 

 

Born in Devon, he died in Camberwell and was buried in Square 62, Grave 19075.

 

“When serving as a sharpshooter [in the Coldstream Guards] he volunteered to crawl up to the Russian lines.  Being six yards from a Russian sentry he spied out the land, to enable his comrades to launch a surprise attack.”

 

Charles Waters: Founder of the International Bible Reading Association in 1882 which by the time of his death in 1910 had over one million members.

 

There is a monument circa 1910 to Charles Waters (839-1910) in the Old Cemetery featuring a marble group of a seated woman with book (likely a bible) in her lap embracing a small child on a battered plinth

 

Whilst the monument has been addressed as stable and fencing removed, the monument is listing markedly.

 

James John Berkeley: Chief civil engineer of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, 1819-1862.

 

Robert Stephenson said of him 'he had succeeded not only in engineering matter... but in the more difficult task of engineering men.'

 

At the Mechanics' Institute in Bombay, a 'Berkley gold medal' was founded in his name. In 1855 he became a magistrate, in 1857 a commissioner of the Bombay Municipal Board, and in 1858 a member of the Senate of Bombay University.

Berkley came back in 1856 to England, but revisited India to see his work on the Bhore Ghât fully developed. He died in Sydenham on 26 August 1862 at the comparatively early age of 42.

 

Frederick John Horniman: Founder of the Horniman Museum, 1835 - 1906.

 

Frederick Horniman was an English tea trader, collector, public benefactor and founder of the Horniman Museum in south London. Member of London County Council, Liberal Member of Parliament for Penryn and Falmouth in Cornwall 1895 – 1906, he was the son of John Horniman, who founded a tea business using mechanical packaging and at the time it was regarded as one of the biggest tea companies in the world.

 

War Graves

 

There are 288 Commonwealth service war graves from the First World War, 160 of whom are in a war graves plot in the north east corner with two Screen Wall memorials, one listing those buried in the plot and the other marking those buried elsewhere in the cemetery whose graves are not marked by headstones, including six in Area Z soon to be mounded over for new burial plots.

 

There is also a group of special memorials to 14 casualties buried in the Second World War.

 

Woods and nature

 

The Forestry Commission definition of woodland is 20% or more tree canopy cover. In the Old Cemetery there are around 12 acres of secondary woodland, with a range of habitats including thicket, meadows, rides, glades and scrub, as well as standard trees dotted across the mown part of the cemetery.

 

Ancient oaks and hawthorns stand within the secondary woodland of oak, ash, hazel, silver birch, hornbeam and other native broadleaf species. There are also yew, white poplar and wild pear including a rare, twin-stemmed wild pear, identified by the Woodland Trust as potentially a Champion Tree for London.

 

Amongst the flagship species recorded are protected noctule and Leisler’s bats, common and soprano pipistrelle bats, stag beetles, tawny owls, speckled wood fritillary, purple hairstreak, holly blue and meadow brown butterfly and six spot burnett moth, greater spotted woodpecker and sparrow hawk. There is also a sizeable community of green woodpeckers.

 

There are a wide range of woodland plants such as wood violet and primrose, as well as rare wild onion plant at Area Z.

 

Southwark Council has no Biodiversity Action Plan for its cemeteries, only a parks and open spaces habitat action plan and species action plans for bats and stag beetles.

 

Its inscription reads:

 

THESE MEMORIALS WERE DEDICATED BY THE BISHOP OF WOOLWICH THE RIGHT REVEREND PETER HALL AND UNVEILED BY THE WORSHIPFUL THE MAYOR OF SOUTHWARK COUNCILLOR DANNY MCCARTHY 8th MAY 1995

"MAY GOD GRANT THEM ETERNAL REST"

 

The Borough of Southwark was hit hard by wartime air raids, leading to the deaths of hundreds of its residents. Many homes and municipal buildings were also hit. These included the Old Cemetery's Church of England and Roman Catholic chapels, both of which were destroyed.

 

Woods and nature

 

The New Cemetery is mostly flat but a sizeable area also lies on One Tree Hill, Honor Oak’s primary landscape feature.

The site has a mosaic of secondary woodland, scrub, tall herbs and species-poor mown grass with scattered mature trees and shrubs.

 

Amongst the protected species recorded are common lizard, noctule and Leisler’s bats, common and soprano pipistrelle bats. The Ivy clad mature oaks and sycamores in the woodland have a medium to high chance of being bat roosts.

 

Southwark Council has no Biodiversity Action Plan for its cemeteries, only a parks and open spaces habitat action plan and species action plans for bats and stag beetles.

 

 

References

 

Wikipedia Camberwell Cemeteries https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camberwell_Cemeteries

 

Deceased Online http://deceasedonlineblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/remembering-poor-of-peckham-and.html

 

Find a Grave www.findagrave.com

 

Memorials to Valour www.memorialstovalour.co.uk

 

Historic England www.historicengland.org.uk

 

Grace’s Guide http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/James_John_Berkley

 

Cockney Pride http://www.cockneypride.org/george-cornell.html

 

The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2001/nov/04/sport.tonythompson

 

Shady Old Lady http://www.shadyoldlady.com/location.php?loc=1232

 

Ecological Assessment of Camberwell Old Cemetery for Southwark Council by Catherine Bickmore Associates, December 2011  

 

Bat Survey for Southwark Council by London Wildlife Trust, September 2015

 

 

Save Southwark Woods

 

Visit our website for information on Southwark Council’s plans and our campaign to save the woods and graves of the Camberwell Cemeteries:

 

www.savesouthwarkwoods.org.uk

 

Email us: savesouthwarkwoods@gmail.com

 

Phone SSW Co-ordinator Blanche Cameron: 07731 304 966

 

Please sign and share the online petition to save Southwark Woods:

 

you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-southwark-woods