Walking in Grove Park Cemetery was a good experience, perhaps not what you might expect to hear.
History of the cemetery
St Paul’s Churchyard in Deptford closed for further burials in 1858 because it was full and so the Burial Board bought land for a new cemetery in Brockley. This became Deptford New Cemetery which is now known as Brockley Cemetery. However, by 1930 even Brockley Cemetery was nearly full and so the Deptford Burial Board again bought undeveloped land, this time in Grove Park. The Borough Surveyor, H Morley Lawson, designed the site and the second Deptford New Cemetery opened in 1935. Today it is known as Grove Park Cemetery. The cemetery on top of the hill and on the terrace just below is Grade II listed. The listing does not extend to the new cemetery which lies on the lower hillside. The site covers 6.5 hectares.
The original buildings and layout of the of the cemetery are still in place and described in great detail by Historic England.
The original part of the cemetery
The wide avenue at the entrance leads to the circle below, in the centre of the site, and paths lead out from here. Terracing on the hillside, with steps, seats and an ornamental pool, creates a fluid design. The terracing and path curves round the hillside and the seats and the steps create a sense of landscaped garden. I find this landscaping more pleasing than gravestones laid out in rigid rows. I think this area, just below the crown of the hill, will be beautiful in the spring and summer. Thankfully the ornamental pool is no longer white concrete.
Memorials to those killed in the World Wars
The 56 Commonwealth War Graves in the cemetery commemorate those service men and women who died in WWII and came from the local community. Behind the graves, the memorial wall lists those who have no grave, such as RN personnel. Nearby is a memorial to civilians in Deptford who died in WWII and who are buried in a mass grave in front of the memorial.
Planting in the original cemetery
‘…to the east and south-east Marvels Wood and Elmstead Wood still provide a sylvan setting. Planting within the cemetery is not exceptional, and includes willows, limes, cypresses, and hawthorn, with floral beds near the entrance where there are mature trees of a wide selection of species, native and exotic…’.London Gardens Trust, 1.4.2012
The new cemetery
Walking in Grove Park Cemetery is a peaceful experience, but it is also humbling to see so many new graves.
- Historic England: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1001681
- Records of Burials: http://deceasedonlineblog.blogspot.com/2015/09/lewisham-collection-grove-park-cemetery.html