Inventory Site Record

Hanwell Cemetery * (Ealing)

Brief Description

* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

In 1853 St George's Hanover Square Burial Board purchased land in Hanwell for a new cemetery, its existing burial grounds overcrowded. Hanwell Cemetery opened in 1854, and was initially only for use of parishioners of St George's Hanover Square, but later extended to Hanwell parishioners. In 1889 ownership transferred to the Metropolitan Borough of City of Westminster. Its layout was influenced by John Claudius Loudon, who advocated combining the functional with the aesthetic, with a grid pattern of paths for ease, and evergreen trees planted singly to avoid dropping leaves and obstruction. Its Victorian Gothic-style buildings included a lodge and pair of chapels, and it had fine gates and railings. A series of mausolea are found along the Cedar-lined main drive. Further tree planting took place in the 1920s, and some of its fine and unusual trees are the result of the connection that one of the superintendents had with Kew Gardens.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
City of Westminster Cemetery; St George's Cemetery
Site location:
38 Uxbridge Road, Ealing
W7 3PP
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Open to public?
Opening times:
Mon-Fri 8.30am - 4.30pm (Nov-Feb), 6pm (Mar-Oct); Sat/Sun/BH: 11am - 4pm (Nov-Feb), - 6pm (Mar-Oct)
Special conditions:
Toilets. Chapels (open Mon-Fri 9am-4.30pm)
Public transport:
Rail: Hanwell. Tube: Acton Town, Boston Manor (Piccadilly) then bus; Ealing Broadway (District, Central) then bus. Bus: E3, E8, 83, 207.
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.westminster.gov.uk/services/communityandliving/burials/hanwell/

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

In the late 1840s St George's Hanover Square Burial Board was confronted with complaints about condition of its burial grounds in Bayswater Road and St Mark's, North Audley Street "whose several urban burial grounds had a particularly noxious reputation". The Burial Board was able to take action after the Metropolitan Interment Act of 1850, which compelled local authorities to establish burial grounds outside the built-up areas of the city, and it so purchased 12 acres (5ha) in Hanwell in 1853 to provide new cemetery initially for exclusive use of parishioners of St George's Hanover Square. At that time Hanwell was on the outskirts of London although by the 1850s was rapidly being developed. This was one of the first public cemeteries to be opened after the 1850 Act. They appointed Robert Jerrard as architect and the cost to design cemetery and its buildings was £14,741 17s 11d including c.£1000 spent on planting. Jerrard had previously designed the Lansdowne estate in Cheltenham in the 1830s. As with most cemeteries of this era, its layout was influenced by John Claudius Loudon who had published 'On the laying out, planting and managing of cemeteries' in 1843 advocating an approach combining the functional with the aesthetic: a grid pattern for ease of locating and maintaining graves, planting of evergreen trees planted as single specimens, so as to avoid problems of dropping leaves and obstructing the space for burials.

The cemetery was consecrated by the Bishop of London on 6 July 1854 and the first interment took place on 2 August 1854. The cemetery has an imposing Victorian Gothic style lodge (said to be the largest in London) with a sculpted relief of St George over the door, which is now privately owned, and giant stone gate piers, gates and railings to Uxbridge Road; monuments include series of mausoleums along Cedar-lined approach to chapel; the Cedars were part of the planting of 1850s. An unmatched pair of chapels lies at the southern end of the cedar-lined main drive; both chapels are stone-built in Victorian Gothic style linked by an archway; originally one was used for Anglican burials, the other for Nonconformist burials; the western one is now used as the cemetery office. A small catacomb range is built into the west wall of the cemetery.

In 1883 an additional 11 acres (4.5ha) were purchased. In 1889 the cemetery transferred to Metropolitan Borough of City of Westminster under provisions of Act in 1889. Further tree planting took place in 1920s and includes some fine and unusual trees, when one of superintendents was connected to Kew Gardens. In parts the planting is less dramatic - more modern small "cemetery trees" than in Kensington Cemetery (q.v.) with which this is a pair. A drinking fountain near the chapel was erected in memory of Emilia Selway in 1889. Beyond the chapels is a cross-walk with a number of horse chestnuts, and a grid of paths; west of the main approach is a lawn with the modern Arama monument (c.1989) in the form of a pavilion. The Civilian War Memorial was erected in 1950 to commemorate the 200 people who died in World War II and are buried within the cemetery; among them was Al Bowlly, the popular singer named 'Britain's answer to Bing Crosby' who died in an air raid on 17 April 1941. There are paupers' graves on the outside edge. The cemetery chapel has stained glass windows that were a memorial gift to the City Council and were installed in 1945. The cemetery buildings were restored in 1994.

Those buried here include comedian Freddie Frinton (1916-1968), Sir John Ackerman (1825-1905) Mayor of Pietermaritsburg, Richard Bullen Newton (1854-1926) palaeontologist at the British Museum, Sir John Hunt, first town clerk of the City of Westminster.

In 1987 WCC controversially sold this and its two other cemeteries, Mill Hill and St Marylebone (q.q.v), to private developers for 15p, in order to pass on the £400,000 maintenance costs. All three cemeteries were immediately sold on and became much neglected. In 1988, following public outcry particularly by relatives of the deceased, the Ombudsman ruled that WCC had to buy back the cemeteries, but the price then asked was c. £10million. However, it was later ruled that WCC had had no powers to sell in the first place so the original sale was void. In 1992 WCC bought back all three cemeteries and WCC continues to own 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.

Sources consulted:

Cemetery leaflet; Meg Game, John Archer, Mathew Frith, 'Nature Conservation in Ealing', Ecology Handbook 16 (London Ecology Unit), 1991; LB Ealing Conservation Area Appraisal (April 1999); Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed); Chris Brooks et al, 'Mortal Remains', 1989 p 51; Victoria County History; C Webb revised ed of P Wolfston 'Greater London Cemeteries and Crematoria', Society of Genealogists, 1994; Hugh Meller & Brian Parsons, 'London Cemeteries, An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer', 4th edition (The History Press, 2008); Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993). EH entry also lists Peter Hounsell, 'Ealing and Hanwell Past' (Historical Publications, 1991)

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ159800 (515920,180038)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
City of Westminster
Site management:
Parks Service
Robert W Jerrard
Listed structures:
LBII:Gate piers, gates and railings
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:
Hanwell Cemeteries
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
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.