Inventory Site Record

Hither Green Cemetery and Hither Green Crematorium (Lewisham)

Brief Description

The site juxtaposes the Victorian Hither Green Cemetery and the 1950s Hither Green Crematorium, which according to Hugh Meller illustrates 'the richness of the C19th cemetery and the vacuity of its C20th counterpart'. Hither Green Cemetery opened in 1873 on former farmland and retains the ornamental entrance gates and pair of gothic chapels although the entrance lodge was later demolished. The well-planted cemetery has meandering paths and some fine monuments. It was later extended but the new area is a mere grid of paths and gravestones, with few trees. Adjacent and accessible from the cemetery, separated by hedging and a row of Lombardy poplars is Hither Green Crematorium, which opened in 1956.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Lee Cemetery; Lewisham Crematorium
Site location:
Verdant Lane, Grove Park
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Open to public?
Opening times:
Cemetery: 10am - 6pm (March-Oct), - 5pm (Nov-Feb). Crematorium: Mon-Fri 9am - 5pm (March-Oct), - 4.30pm (Nov-Feb); Sat/Sun 10am-4.30 or 3.30pm
Special conditions:
Toilets, car park
Public transport:
Rail: Grove Park then bus, Hither Green. Bus: 124, 284
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

Hither Green Cemetery opened in 1873, laid out by Francis Thorne, who was buried here in 1885. It has massively decorated iron entrance gates, good railings, meandering paths and drives, and is well-planted with ornamental evergreens, holly, yew, deodar, holm oak and other specimen conifers. Most of the mature trees and shrubs are in the area around the pair of Gothic ragstone chapels, both of which survive, but the gothic entrance lodge was demolished in the 1960s. Near the further chapel is a notable mausoleum to John Taylor and family of 1903. Among those buried here is the well-respected local historian Leland Duncan (d.1923) to whom the Lewisham Local History Society erected a gravestone to the right of the entrance in 1998. In 1943 a huge crowd of 7,000 mourners gathered for the mass burial of 33 of the 44 victims of the bombing of Sandhurst Road School, Catford.

The cemetery is well-known among ornithologists not only as a good site for migrants, but also for the large roost of ring-necked parakeets native to the Himalayas, up to 100 of which gather at night in the autumn and winter months in the row of Lombardy poplars running down the middle of the cemetery.

Originally called Lewisham Crematorium, Hither Green Crematorium was opened in 1956, and has a separate entrance lower down Verdant Lane through a semi-circular entranceway inscribed with its name. This leads to the large crematorium garden, which is formally landscaped on a small scale: dotted with small flowering trees and shrubs, blue cedars, willows, a somewhat bland long narrow water feature with some rocks, and paths with commemorative plaques.

Sources consulted:

John Archer, Ian Yarham, 'Nature Conservation in Lewisham', Ecology Handbook 30, London Ecology Unit, 2000 and Lewisham Walk 2 leaflet; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; Hugh Meller & Brian Parsons, 'London Cemeteries, An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer', 4th edition (The History Press, 2008); South East London's Green Chain pack, 1998; Darrell Spurgeon, 'Discover Sydenham and Catford', (Greenwich Guide-books, 1999)

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ395729 (539550,172950)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Lewisham
Site management:
Crematorium and Cemeteries Department
1873; 1956
Cemetery: Francis Thorne
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:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough Importance I
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.