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.
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.
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.
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,