FOKGC and Octavia Foundation join forces to highlight the amazing Kensal Green Cemetery Story
The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery are delighted to be associated with the Octavia Foundation in their
exciting youth-led endeavour that will unlock Kensal Green’s rich stories for the benefit of a wider public.
Kensal Green is the oldest public cemetery in London, founded in 1833, and became the resting place of many
famous and infamous individuals and of thousands of lesser known people placed here by their loved ones.
All of them had their lives and their stories. Many of these will be investigated in depth and presented to the
public by means of a new smartphone app., a short film and youth-led art exhibition. The project is Heritage
The General Cemetery of All Souls, Kensal Green is one of Britain’s most distinguished burial grounds and
doyen of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries. Kensal Green was established by Act of Parliament in 1832
and held its first funeral in 1833. Run by its original owners, the General Cemetery Company, it is still open for
funerals, burials and cremations. It is accessible to the public every day of the year.
Kensal Green Cemetery is famed for its magnificent Grade 1 listed Anglican Chapel of 1836, its fastidiously
restored 11* Dissenters’ Chapel completed in 1834 and imposing Main Entrance on Harrow Road, all designed
by John Griffith of Finsbury in a handsome Greek Revival style. The Cemetery has a Grade 1 registered ‘garden’
landscape of great interest and beauty. It is divided into two parts, the larger Anglican section, originally for
members of the Church of England, and the smaller eastern section for Nonconformists and people of other
faiths. The whole of the cemetery lies within a designated Conservation Area.
There are now over 140 listed structures and monuments therein. The funerals of HRH The Duke of Sussex and
of HRH Princess Sophia, both children of George III, made the Cemetery a fashionable resting place from the
1840s. Other graves mark the final resting places of outstanding individuals such as engineers Marc and
Isambard Kingdom Brunel; mathematician Charles Babbage whose work foreshadowed the modern computer;
Dr James (Miranda) Barry, hospital reformer who performed the first caesarean section and practised as a man;
writers Harrison Ainsworth, Wilkie Collins, William Thackeray and Anthony Trollope; Niagara Falls tightropewalker,
Blondin; Marigold Churchill, infant daughter of Sir Winston and Lady Churchill; William Mulready,
painter; Harold Pinter and Terence Rattigan, playwrights; John McDouall Stuart, explorer of
Australia; Dwarkanauth Tagore, Indian businessman and philanthropist and Lady Wilde, mother of Oscar
Wilde. Over 700 people with entries in the Dictionary of National Biography lie at Kensal Green. Its 72 acres
contains 473 war graves including holders of a George Cross and fifteen Victoria Crosses.
Writer G.K.Chesterton placed Kensal Green Cemetery firmly in the public mind with his poem The Rolling
English Road which included the much quoted words, “For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be
seen before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.”
The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery, a registered charity, conduct weekend walks, specialised tours and other
activities throughout the year. There is an annual Open Day, a programme of lectures, publication production and
ongoing monument restoration. The current major project, a joint endeavour with the General Cemetery
Company, focuses on the repair and re-use of the Anglican Chapel.