Inventory Site Record

Brompton Cemetery * (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

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

Brompton Cemetery was built for the West London and Westminster Cemetery Company, founded in 1836, on a site purchased from Lord Kensington and the Equitable Gas Company. The new cemetery opened in 1840, designed by Benjamin Baud; the grounds were laid out by landscape gardener Isaac Finnemore with advice from J C Loudon, Messrs Veitch supplying plants. The full extent of Baud's designs were not carried out but by 1847 the buildings included the Chapel with arcades and catacombs. Baud's design had avenues running north-west and south-east from the entrance on Old Brompton Road and these retain their dominant planting of limes; other trees include scattered mature weeping silver lime, holly, Holm oak, cedar of Lebanon and yew. In 1850 the Metropolitan Interments Act enabled the Board of Health to purchase the cemetery for a fraction of the price asked by the Company. Many notable people are buried here.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
West London and Westminster Cemetery
Site location:
Old Brompton Road, Fulham Road
SW10 9UG
Type of site:
Kensington & Chelsea
Open to public?
Opening times:
8am-4pm (Jan, Nov, Dec) / -5pm (Feb, Oct) / -6pm (March, late Sept) /-7pm (April, early Sept)/-8pm (May-August)
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 2 times, most recently in 2018.
Special conditions:
Burial record search available for small fee
Guided walks; Annual Open Day (July); guided tours and lectures by arrangement. Has opened for OGSW
Public transport:
London Overground/Tube (District): West Brompton. Bus: 14, 74, 190, 211, 328, 414, 430, C1, C3
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/brompton_cemetery

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. 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.

The West of London and Westminster Cemetery Company, founded in 1836, purchased the site for its new cemetery, previously used for brick-making activities, from Lord Kensington and the Equitable Gas Company. Benjamin Baud won the competition to design the new cemetery in 1838; he had previously designed buildings in medieval style and had assisted on improvements to Windsor Castle. However his grand scheme for Brompton Cemetery was a classical conception and work on the cemetery proceeded in 1839 which opened in 1840, its first burial of Mrs C Boyle Shaw marked by a slab designed by Baud. The Company engaged landscape gardener Isaac Finnemore to lay out the grounds, with advice from J C Loudon on planting and plants supplied by Messrs Veitch. The Cemetery Company found themselves in financial difficulties, Baud's designs were altered, corners cut in the building works and Finnemore resigned. By 1844 defects emerged in the buildings resulting in Baud's sacking. Baud had intended the cemetery to be walled around and with catacombs incorporated in the western wall. It was to have two entrances, a water-gate for canal-borne coffins from the Kensington Canal (now the route of the District line), but only the main entrance with triumphal arch was built. The building work was completed by 1847, comprising a chapel with related 'great circle' of arcades and catacombs on the 'great circle' and along the west wall, of which the six catacombs on the 'great circle' survive, with wide paved steps leading down to entrance doors. Baud's design had a central avenue running north-west / south-east from the entrance on Old Brompton Road.

In 1850 the Metropolitan Interments Act was passed which, although it was later repealed, enabled the Board of Health to purchase Brompton Cemetery for a fraction of the price asked by the Company. By 1889 Mrs Basil Holmes records that it contained 155,000 bodies and it is now closed to burials except in family tombs. The earliest tombs are those south of the chapel, with mausoleums by the main axial path and at ronds points. There are numerous graves for soldiers due to its proximity to the Royal Hospital at Chelsea, which acquired a plot at Brompton Cemetery when the Old Burial Ground at the Royal Hospital (q.v.) closed to burials in 1855.

Among those buried here are the Egyptologist Joseph Bonomi; Thomas Cundy III who designed parts of Belgravia as architect and surveyor to the Duke of Westminster; Frederick Leyland (d. 1892), ship-owner and patron of the Pre-Raphaelites whose tomb is 'a unique example of Arts and Crafts funerary design' (Meller); and Emmeline Pankhurst (d.1928), the suffragette leader. There is notable and dominant planting of lime trees along the north-west and south-east avenues, with scattered mature weeping silver lime, holly, holm oak, cedar of Lebanon and yew.

Sources consulted:

Hugh Meller & Brian Parsons, 'London Cemeteries, An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer', 4th edition (The History Press, 2008). See EH Register: LCC Survey of London, XLI, 1983, pp246-52; JS Curl 'A Celebration of Death', 1980, pp240-43.

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ258776 (525719,177795)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Royal Parks Agency
Site management:
Royal Parks Agency. Friends of Brompton Cemetery
Benjamin B Baud; landscaping Isaac Finnemore with J C Loudon consulted on planting
Listed structures:
LBII*: C of E Chapel and four Arcades; entrance gates and screen on Old Brompton Road. LBII: Ironwork piers, gates and screen on Fulham Road; Tomb of John Jackson, Chest tomb of Fredrick R Leyland, Tomb of Emmeline Pankhurst, Chest Tomb of Valentine Cameron Prinsep, Tomb of George Godwin, Guards Memorial N-W of Circle No 4, Tomb of Ft Sub-Lt Reginald Warneford
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

NHLE grade:
Grade I
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:
Brompton Cemetery
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough Importance I
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Strategic View corridor (south)

Brompton Cemetery *

Brompton Cemetery - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 15/05/18 10:56

Click a photo to enlarge.

More photos

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.