Inventory Site Record

Beckenham Crematorium and Cemetery

Beckenham Crematorium and Cemetery (Bromley)

Brief Description

Beckenham Cemetery opened in 1876 and originally had two Gothic-style chapels, only one of which survived bombing in WWII. This is now the chapel for Beckenham Crematorium, which established in 1956. An area of artificial rockwork with cascades and pools is located behind the chapel to the west. The cemetery retains its stone gate piers, wrought iron gates and iron boundary railings and has a good collection of monuments, including that of cricketer W.G. Grace and Frederick Wolseley, inventor with Herbert Austin of the Wolseley car.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Crystal Palace District Cemetery, Elmers End Cemetery
Site location:
Elmers End Road, Beckenham
Type of site:
Open to public?
Opening times:
8am - 6.30pm, car park closes 4.30pm
Special conditions:
car park
Public transport:
Rail: Birkbeck, Elmers End. Tram at Elmers End. Bus: 354

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2002
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

Beckenham Cemetery, originally called Crystal Palace District Cemetery, and Elmers End Cemetery, opened in 1876, although some sources give the opening date as 1880. It originally had two Gothic style chapels designed by architect Alexander Hennell, whose designs were published in The Builder in November 1874. The oldest part of the cemetery is near the main entrance, which has a large Edwardian lodge. The consecrated chapel was damaged by bombing in WWII but not demolished until the 1960s; the surviving unconsecrated chapel was converted into the chapel for Beckenham Crematorium, which was established here in 1956. A number of additional buildings have been built or added to the chapel, which is now partially covered in creeper or ivy. An area of artificial rockwork with cascades and pools is located behind the chapel to the west, described as 'a unique feature among London's cemeteries' (Meller). Nearby is a garden of remembrance with brick-piered pergola and rose beds. The cemetery retains its stone gate piers, wrought iron gates and iron boundary railings and has a good collection of monuments.

Numerous doctors have been buried here, a fact which Meller speculates is due to its proximity to Sydenham's healthful spa. Among those buried here is William ('W G') Grace (1848-1915), doctor but best known as a famous cricketer who scored 126 centuries in his 43 year career, and who was cricket manager at Crystal Palace. Josiah, 1st Lord Stamp of Shortlands (1880-1941) is buried here, influential government adviser, director of the Bank of England and ICI, and president of a number of diverse organisations including the Geographical Society and the Institute of Transport. In 1988 a memorial was erected to mark the grave of Frederick Wolseley (1837-1899), who with Herbert Austin created the Wolseley car in the 1890s. Wolseley had previously spent time in Australia where he invented a sheep shearing machine. A memorial commemorates one of the heaviest air raids in WWII in London on 19/20 April 1941 when 21 members of Beckenham Fire Service died. Henry Lowndes' grave has a figure of a soldier on his grave, commemorating his service as a hero of the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny.

Adjacent to South Norwood Country Park to the south, it is a well-wooded site with horse chestnut trees, Lombardy poplars, yew and willows and is laid out with serpentine and geometrical paths either asphalted or surviving in grass. Previously owned by Beckenham Crematorium Company, the crematorium is now owned by Dignity Funerals Ltd, which also now runs East London Cemetery and Crematorium in Plaistow, and South London Crematorium and Streatham Park Cemetery (q.q.v.).

Sources consulted:

Hugh Meller & Brian Parsons, 'London Cemeteries, An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer', 4th edition (The History Press, 2008), pp142-5; B Cherry & N Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 2: South' (1983, reprint 1999) p167; The Builder, vol. 32, 7 November 1874, pp.923-24

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ353688 (535186,168739)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Dignity Funerals Ltd
Site management:
Dignity Funerals Ltd
Alexander Hennell (architect for the chapels)
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

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:
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Local Importance
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Urban Open Space

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