Paddington Old Cemetery * (Brent)
* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens
Paddington Cemetery is an early and expansively designed cemetery dating from 1855 when Paddington Burial Board purchased 24 acres of rural land in Willesden. The original path layout in the shape of a horse-shoe is still intact although the circular and semicircular rond-points planted with beds and trees no longer exist. Trees were planted along the paths and many specimen trees remain from the original planting. Of the two chapels, only one is now in use. The original cemetery is nearly full and a new section has been opened in the north, but mounding of public graves and reclamation of used space in private graves enables its continuance of use.
- Previous / Other name:
- Paddington Cemetery; Willesden Lane Cemetery
- Site location:
- Willesden Lane
- NW6 7SD
- What 3 Words:
- Type of site:
- Open to public?
- Opening times:
- 9am - 4pm (Jan/Feb/Nov/Dec) - 5pm (Oct) - 6pm (Mar) - 7pm (April, Sept) - 8pm (May - August).
- Special conditions:
- Public transport:
- London Overground/Tube (Bakerloo): Queen's Park. Tube: Kilburn (Jubilee). London Overground: Brondesbury Park. Bus: 98
- Research updated:
- Last minor changes:
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.brent.gov.uk
Full Site Description
Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list
Paddington Cemetery is an early and expansively designed cemetery dating from 1855 when Paddington Burial Board purchased 24 acres of rural land in Willesden, and was one of the first to be opened by the Burial Board set up following the 1852 Metropolitan Interment Act to address the problems of urban churchyards. It was laid out by Thomas Little who was also responsible for Nunhead Cemetery (q.v.). The original path layout in the shape of a horse-shoe is still intact although the circular and semicircular rond points planted with beds and trees no longer exist. Trees were planted along the paths, chiefly lime and plane, and there are many specimen trees remaining from the original planting including oak, lime, horse-chestnut, yew, field maple, London plane and Scots pine. In addition at least one oak tree dating from before the cemetery was laid out remains. Little designed two lodges, now in private use, and a fine pair of chapels with porte-cochère and central belfry, in 'correct 13th century Gothic' style (Meller). That to the west was the Church of England chapel, the other for Nonconformists. Only one chapel is now in use and the original cemetery is nearly full and a new section was recently opened in the north. Mounding of public graves and reclamation of used space in private graves enables its continuance of use.
At the time of opening, 'The Builder' commented that the grouping of the chapels and their ancillary buildings obviated "the unsatisfactory and diminutive appearance which small detached chapels in large open spaces always present" (vol 13, 1855, p.402). In the eastern corner is an area known as God's Acre and a stone cross commemorates those buried here. This is now overgrown and part of the Nature Area comprising woodland with mature trees.
Among those buried here are Edward Beesley, President of the London Positivist Society from 1878-1900, the Epsom Derby-winning jockey Danny Maher, temperance reformer and preacher Jabez Burns, and Arthur Orton, infamous for claiming to be Sir Roger Tichborne, lost at sea in 1854 and heir to the considerable family fortune; he tried to claim his inheritance but lost and was arrested and convicted for perjury. After serving 10 years in prison he made another unsuccessful claim but finally died in 1898. A war memorial is close to the western entrance, within a small rectangular area next to formal rose beds. There are also formal rose gardens near the eastern lodge, which was once the site of glasshouses. A playground here was removed in 2007 and laid out as a formal quiet area. The cemetery is enclosed with brick perimeter walls and has imposing iron gates with piers topped by draped urns.
In 1986 the City of Westminster sold the cemetery to LB Brent. In 1999 improvements led to its Special Commendation in the Cemetery of the Year Awards. New trees were planted in celebration of the Millennium in 2000. There is an apiary within the cemetery and has 'Tombstone honey' for sale. Salusbury School in partnership with the cemetery service have created an environmental study area at the back of the cemetery.
The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England was established in 1984 and was commonly called English Heritage. In April 2015 it split into 2 separate entities, Historic England (HE), which continues to champion and protect the historic environment, and the English Heritage Trust, whose role is to look after the 400+ historic sites and monuments owned by the state. HE manages the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) that includes over 400,000 items ranging from prehistoric monuments to office blocks, battlefields and parks, which benefit from legal protection.
NHLE Register - Hugh Meller & Brian Parsons, 'London Cemeteries, An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer', 4th edition (The History Press, 2008); J S Curl 'A Celebration of Death', 1980; Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed); LB Brent Cemeteries web page; LWT leaflet; Ian Yarham, Meg Game 'Nature Conservation in Brent, Ecology Handbook 31', London Ecology Unit, 2000
Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
- Grid ref:
- TQ246839 (524549,183783)
- Size in hectares:
- Site ownership:
- LB Brent
- Site management:
- Cemeteries & Mortuaries Service; Friends of Paddington Old Cemetery
- Thomas Little
- Listed structures:
- LBII: Two Chapels
- On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:
- NHLE grade:
- Grade II
- Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
- Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
Local Authority Data
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
- On Local List:
- In Conservation Area:
- Conservation Area name:
- Paddington Cemetery
- Tree Preservation Order:
- Not known
- Nature Conservation Area:
- Yes - Borough Importance II
- Green Belt:
- Metropolitan Open Land:
- Special Policy Area:
- Other LA designation:
Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.