Woolwich New Cemetery

Woolwich New Cemetery lies on top of the hill opposite Bostall Woods and presents a somewhat stark aspect as you walk through the gate.

A brief history

The original cemetery was full by 1885 and so more land was secured to the east for what is also known as Woolwich New Cemetery. As you walk through the gates the outlook is rather bleak. The graves lie in straight lines and the trees are spaced out and don’t soften the landscape. Perhaps this is appropriate. The reality of life, and death, is laid out in front of you and has to be confronted.

War Memorial at the entrance of Woolwich New Cemetery
War Memorial at the entrance of Woolwich New Cemetery

Wooded section of the cemetery

But as you walk towards the far, eastern end the site changes. William Barefoot Gardens is on the slope below the cemetery and the north eastern boundary was Bowan Spring Wood according to the OS Map published in 1870. Perhaps some of the mature trees survive these earlier times. The ground slopes and graves are less regularly placed. 

Woolwich New Cemetery
Looking towards Plumstead Cemetery
Looking towards Plumstead Cemetery and Bostall Woods
Woolwich New Cemetery
Woolwich New Cemetery
On the boundary of the former Bowan Spring Wood

War Graves

There is a shared grave for five men killed in an explosion at Woolwich Arsenal in 1939.

The two cemeteries together have 197 Commonwealth war graves which are marked with Kipling Stones and there is a recipient of the Victoria Cross in both cemeteries.

Trumpeter Monaghan VC
Trumpeter T Monaghan VC

Woolwich New Cemetery is somewhat forbidding – perhaps that is appropriate as death is a serious matter. But the trees always give comfort and I feel that the Victorians who designed gardens, as in Grove Park Cemetery. were perhaps more sympathetic to those left behind,

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