Charlton Cemetery opened in 1855 and it lies behind Charlton House and Charlton Park in the Borough of Greenwich.
A brief history of the cemetery
Charlton Cemetery opened in 1855 and it had two 19th century chapels – one Anglican, the other Roman Catholic. It looks as though one chapel is no longer in used. The remaining chapel is Grade II listed. Apparently the Charlton Burial Board wanted to create a “Gentleman’s Cemetery”. The Board bought eight acres of land that were part of the estate of Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson, the Lord of the Manor. Another seven acres were added in the 20th century.
The original part of of the cemetery
The original, Victorian cemetery with mature trees and curving paths, remains in the centre of the site, surrounding the two chapels. It feels peaceful and calm and the graves cluster under the trees in an unregimented way, some leaning over. But of course there are always sad stories when you read the inscriptions. The cemetery is well-kept but it is a very different place to the nature reserve which is Brockley Cemetery.
The newer sections of the cemetery
On the northern side of the cemetery the grass and wildflowers are not mown but encouraged and left to grow. The graves are in regular lines but the cemetery still feels like a part of the countryside. Tall trees line the boundary and it is also a quiet and peaceful area.
On the south side, bordering Charlton Park Lane, the cemetery is open and rather bare and bleak.
Some interesting historical tombs
There are many graves of service people and 114 CWCG graves scattered throughout the cemetery. A memorial cross stands near the entrance and commemorates those who died in the two World Wars. Staff Sergeant J H Oliver died in February 1917 and was in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. Cdr CWC Strickland served on HMS Wildfire and died in September 1918. The name refers to both ships and shore establishments.
As one might expect in a Victorian cemetery there are many interesting people or graves: Jemima Ayley (1825-49) has an ornate tomb over a 22 foot vault which includes the table and chairs used by her mourning relatives, apparently, and Thomas Murphy (d.1932), owner of Charlton Greyhound Race Track has an imposing memorial with two greyhounds.
There are some wonderful statues and carvings on the graves, and I love the little white dove.
Charlton Cemetery is an interesting place to visit, sad of course, but it is still good to visit and reflect.