An Open Air Cathedral : Brompton Cemetery

Before we realised quite how cold it was outside, last Sunday morning, we had decided to walk to Brompton Cemetery. Our route took us down Fulham Road, a part of London where I loved to window-shop when I lived and worked in London in the 1970s.

Cemetery sign

Brompton Cemetery lies parallel with the District Line Tube and right next door to Stamford Bridge Football Ground, where Chelsea FC play. There was no game last Sunday and we had discovered yet another peaceful haven for nature and contemplation.

Chelsea FC stand

Chelsea FC Football Stand

There aren’t many famous people buried there. Emmeline Pankhurst would probably be the best known. But we delighted in the atmosphere and inspecting graves and tombstones as we moved quite quickly through the cemetery. It was freezing cold.

Brompton Cemetery is the first and only cemetery to be in the care of the Royal Parks. It has what appears to be a thriving group of Friends who organise tours and events. It is one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries that opened in the countryside around London between 1833 and 1841.

chapel

The Open Air Cathedral Design

Designed by architect Samuel Baud ‘his inspirational concept was to create an immense open-air cathedral with a central ‘nave’ running to a ‘high altar’ symbolised by the domed Anglican Chapel. The prominent features in the cemetery are the Colonnades flanking the Central Avenue and the Great Circle, beneath which are the catacombs entered through impressive cast-iron doors’.

Colonnades

The Colonnades

Here are some of the graves and monuments that caught our attention :

Typical Victorian headstones

Typical Victorian Symbolic Headstones

Brandon Thomas

Brandon Thomas who wrote the play ‘Charley’s Aunt’

Blanche Roosevelt

Blanche Roosevelt, opera singer

Hoofstetter

 Hoofstetter Mausoleum

Robert Coombes Champion sculler

This monument erected by public subscription by the warm friends and admirers of Robert Coombes champion sculler on the Thames and on the Tyne

R Warneford

Flight Sub-Lieutenant Reginald Warneford

Reginald Warneford

Val Prinsep

Pre-Raphaelite Painter Val Prinsep and his wife Florence

Prinsep

F R Leyland

Here Lies Frederick Richards Leyland sometime of Woolton Hall Liverpool : Designed by Edward Burne-Jones

Samuel Sotheby

Tree-Like Monument of Samuel Sotheby – Founder of the Auction House

Brigade of Guards

The Brigade of Guards and Commonwealth War Graves

Chelsea Pensioners

The Chelsea Pensioners Monument

CP Service

Where the Pensioners saw Active Service

Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst

Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst – Number One Suffragette

Having walked from the South Lodge to the North Lodge on Old Brompton Road we were very cold and made for a nearby cafe [which just happened to be The Old Troubadour] for warming drinks before the walk back to the hotel, collecting our bags and travelling by crowded tube to Kings Cross where I joined many London Marathon Runners travelling home.

8 comments on “An Open Air Cathedral : Brompton Cemetery

  1. Fascinating array of monuments. I find Warneford’s a bit spooky — do those eyes follow you around??!!

  2. ms6282 says:

    I also visited a cemetery in London last weekend. A different one. A clue to which one – “Did these feet….” No Googling!

  3. Fran says:

    Another place where I have pushed many a buggy…..also ideal for just walking toddlers; safe for them to run up and down the many paths. And whilst they were thus occupied I could spend time reading tombstones.

  4. […] numbered posts. We made our own circuit of the park. The Cemetery was built as one of the “Magnificent Seven” new cemeteries and opened in 1841. Burials took place until 1966. It’s also known as […]

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