Westminster’s lost graveyards

Generations of Londoners lie beneath the city.

Graveyard London, by Robert BardIn many instances, their burial grounds have been built on, or grassed over. Many have been disturbed by urban clearances and modern building activity.

Robert Bard has found and researched many of London’s forgotten final resting places, and describes them in fascinating detail, in March’s Book of the Month Graveyard London: Lost and forgotten burial grounds. In the book, Bard examines the local history of London’s graveyards, including many in the Westminster area.

Bard also describes the squalor of many of London’s old burial grounds. Overcrowding and unsanitary conditions led to the passing of the Burial Act of  1853, which prevented further burials within inner-London church yards. From the mid-Victorian period onward, burials were conducted in large cemeteries in the outer suburbs of the Capital.

The church that stood on the corner of Victoria Street and Broadway, from 1843 to 1947. Its former graveyard is now Christ Church Gardens. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

The church that stood on the corner of Victoria Street and Broadway, from 1843 to 1947. Its former graveyard is now Christ Church Gardens. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Over time, many of the disused graveyards of inner-London parishes have been dismantled and built over. However in some cases the fascinating, and often comprehensive, personal details provided on the headstone engravings and memorials can still be found.

Westminster Archives Centre holds a number of transcripts of gravestones and memorials removed from Westminster churches and graveyards. In these documents, records of Westminster residents of long ago are still accessible, though their final resting places have been lost.

If you’re a family historian, or simply interested in the rich history of Westminster and its residents, you may wish to read the Archive Centre’s Family History Information Sheet 8 – Memorials for more information.

Mount Street Gardens in Mayfair, circa 1910. The Gardens are on the site of the old Mount Street Burial Ground. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Mount Street Gardens in Mayfair, circa 1910. The Gardens are on the site of the old Mount Street Burial Ground. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

[Michelle]

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