Victorian Cemeteries

Nunhead Cemetery

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Laying in South London since 1840, the little-known Nunhead Cemetery is one of the most impressive ones amongst the Magnificent Seven.

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As one approaches the north entrance, the imposing classical pillars and iron gates displaying some symbolic emblems such as the inverted torches and the snakes swallowing their own tails, remind one of the spiritual place that lies ahead.

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The main entrance leads to a beautiful tree-lined pathway, the Avenue, at the end of which there is a precious Anglican Chapel. Designed by Thomas Little, the chapel was built in 1844, predominantly gothic in style.

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In the 1970’s the chapel and crypt were victims of an arson attack that damaged most of the interior.

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Originally known as The Nunhead Cemetery of All Saints, it was acquired in 1840 by the London Cemetery Company which was also the owner of Highgate Cemetery.

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With its 52 acres of land, it is the second largest of the septet.  It also counts with fine views over London; it is placed on a hill, 200 feet (61 metres) above sea level. Part of it is still completely overgrown, a woodland, and it has been declared a Local Nature Reserve due to the relevance of the flora and fauna.

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Purchased in 1960 by the United Cemeteries Ltd, it was abandoned by the end of the decade as it became unprofitable. Eventually, the London Borough of Southwark acquired Nunhead Cemetery in 1975 by special Act of Parliament for just £1.

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In 1981 The Friends of the Nunhead Cemetery (FONC) was founded as a charity to preserve and renovate the cemetery and nowadays work together with Southwark Council. FONC have converted it into a magnificent place to visit.

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It was reopened in May 2001, after several years of extensive restoration and rehabilitation, as well as undergrowth clearing. The Heritage Lottery Fund contributed with £1,25 MM towards the overall cost of £2,14 MM, and the money was designated for essential repairs to the Anglican Chapel, restoration to the gates, walls and railings, 50 quality monuments in need of urgent repair (e.g. Vincent Figgins’ grave), improvements to access, and landscaping work.

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Location (main entrance): Linden Grove, SE15 3LP, London. The nearest rail station is Nunhead, a 14-minute journey from Victoria Station.

For more information please visit the official website www.fonc.org.uk.

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16 thoughts on “Nunhead Cemetery

  1. Amazing pictures!!!!! The cemetery is just beautiful, all green and heavy vegetation! Another great article Fitzroy. Congratulations!

  2. I love the peacefulness one finds in your photos, far from the hecticness and madding crowd. There are some who show rejection to the cemeteries, while I reckon they are tranquil and beautiful places where one can really relax, think about the people who are gone and even consider what we expect in our lives before everything is over.
    Best wishes,
    Ana

  3. I agree with Ana, most cemeteries are beautiful spots where you can find an inner peace rather than uneasiness. Congratulations again!

  4. You have done a great job and magnificent articles on these cemeteries. I encourage you to write and delight us with posts about other cities’ cemeteries. The truth is that they are marvellous places to visit but obviously, in life!

    • Thank you G.F. I will certainly write articles about other cemetereis whenever I get to travel and as long as they are beautiful. My next post on Monday will be on West Norwood Cemetery, do not miss it!

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