If you are a Beatrix Potter fan, you’ll want to explore Brompton Cemetery, which is located within one of London’s most affluent boroughs. The cemetery is one of the “Magnificent Seven” garden cemeteries, built in a ring around London during the 1830’s to ease the city’s overcrowded graveyards. Today, there are about 35,000 gravestones, catacombs, stoned arches and even a chapel.
Brompton is the resting place for a number of well-known people. Eighteenth-century gentleman boxer John Jackson and cricket champion John Widen are buried here. Some of the names on gravestones may seem familiar for a cherished literary reason. The cemetery inspired the local writer, Beatrix Potter, with names for some of her characters. Peter Rabbett, Jeremiah Fisher, Mr Nutkins, Mr Brock and Mr McGregor have all been found on the stones at Brompton Cemetery. Miss Potter lived nearby from 1863 to 1913 confirming local rumours that have made the rounds for years about the source of the names of her characters.
The cemetery also offers a public green space. It is not uncommon to find picnickers, strolling Londoners or even people taking their own short rest on a bench. The site is also a popular habitat for a variety of bats, amphibians, invertebrates, moths and a plethora of birds. Bees thrive in the cemetery and the cemetery has its own apiary, and delicious honey is available during cemetery open days. Also, expect to find more than sixty species of trees.
More than this, Brompton is a dream if you love architecture. The cemetery is one of the earliest examples of a landscape architect and traditional architect working together. Designed by Benjamin Baud and John Claudius Loudon, the inspiration for the cemetery was taken from St Peter’s in Rome. The Roman influence can be seen in the existing layout of colonnades and a central avenue leading to the chapel. The architecture and green space are two top reasons why I love visiting Brompton Cemetery. No pun intended, but it is a peaceful way to spend part of a day or even an entire day. I often take a lunch and I always have my camera.
Brompton Cemetery was originally designed to accommodate some 60,000 plots in a combination of common and private graves, closely spaced in tidy rows. Plots on the east side were designated as ‘private’ graves, sold ‘in perpetuity’ with heritable deeds; these could be up to 19 feet (5.8m) deep, typically to contain brick-lined vaults beneath large monuments or mausolea. This encouraged wealthy families to build grand monuments and mausolea to accommodate several generations, as enduring symbols of worldly affluence and prestige. Brompton Cemetery is thus now distinguished by some 35,000 monuments, from modest headstones and ledgers to substantial family mausolea.
On the west, large sections of cheaper ‘common’ graves accommodated several unrelated coffins in one deep cut with no right to erect a monument above; some were dug almost 22 feet (7m) deep to take up to ten adult burials. There are very few actual paupers’ graves.
** What are London’s Magnificent Seven Cemeteries? Highgate, Nunhead, Brompton, Abney Park, Kensal Green, Tower Hamlets and West Norwood. These cemeteries make up a ring of suburban garden cemeteries that opened between 1833 and 1841, on the cusp of the Georgian and Victorian eras.
Where is Brompton Cemetery? The 39-acre site lies between Old Brompton and Fulham Roads, on the western border of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The nearest London Underground & Overground station is West Brompton (District Line, Wimbledon branch, and London Overground), to the west on Old Brompton Road: turn right on leaving the station, and the North Gate and Lodges are within two minutes’ walk.
Earl’s Court Station (Piccadilly and District Lines) is within ten minutes’ walk to the north: turn left out of the Warwick Road entrance and walk south along Warwick Road to Old Brompton Road.
Map Showing the Location of Brompton Cemetery in London ::