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Brompton cemetery in £6.2m restoration

A £6.2m investment has restored and conserved Brompton Cemetery in West London, revealing architectural splendour, uncovering hidden heritage gems and preserving a historic landscape and a wildlife haven for communities in a densely-populated part of the capital.

The four-year restoration project was funded through the National Lottery with a £4.5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and BIG Lottery Fund (BLF), plus an investment of £1.7m from The Royal Parks, the charity which manages the cemetery, generous donors, and with support from The Friends of Brompton Cemetery charity.

This pioneering project is engaging people and communities with historic cemeteries in a new way so they better understand their value and many benefits.

The 39-acre Grade I registered garden cemetery is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries created outside central  London in the 1830s-1840s and is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest and there are many unique, listed monuments and architecture. It contains 35,000 monuments.

The 205,000 burials there include historic figures such as Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the suffragette movement; Sir Henry Cole, who was instrumental in the Great Exhibition and founded the V&A museum, built the Royal Albert Hall and is believed to have invented the Christmas card; and Dr John Snow, who discovered the link between cholera and contaminated water.

There are 2,625 former Chelsea Pensioners, and 13 holders of the Victoria Cross also buried at the cemetery, and many well-known figures from the arts, commerce, sports and horticulture.

Over the decades the cemetery’s condition had deteriorated. Many structures were at risk and in urgent need of restoration. But the refurbishment  programme has restored Benjamin Baud’s original 1840 cathedral-like layout of the cemetery, uncovering hidden features, while restoring the historic landscape, architecture and monuments – including a major refurbishment of the Grade II-listed chapel.

The project has placed the community at its heart, with a new volunteering and training hub – more than 100 new volunteers have been recruited – and now offers a cafe and visitor centre.

And crucially the project has protected and enhanced the cemetery’s diverse wildlife and ecology – which includes 633 trees from around 60 species, 200 moth species and many types of bats, invertebrates and birds. 

Wesley Kerr, Trustee of The Royal Parks, said: “The astonishingly beautiful Brompton Cemetery was always intended for respectful enjoyment by the living as well as burial spaces for the dead. 

“For many years Brompton has been an irresistible backdrop for filmmakers and now, thanks to this important restoration it’s fully accessible for all to discover and enjoy.”

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