A military cemetery laid out by the Royal Engineers in 1853-4 as part of the creation of Aldershot military camp.
In November 1853 the Royal Engineers came to Aldershot charged with the task of designing and laying out a permanent training camp for the British Army, initially as two tented areas known as North Camp and South Camp. The main body of the camp was constructed to the north and north-west of the town with the cemetery ground placed at the eastern end of the area, in South Camp, on steeply sloping ground which commanded views out across the countryside. At that time it was set on its own, away from the boundary of the camp between Thorn Hill to the north, Round Hill to the east, and Peaked Hill to the south-west. The layout drawings for the camp, dated 1853/4, show the detailed layout of the cemetery, suggesting that the Royal Engineers were responsible for the design as well as its construction. A small wooden chapel, rather than a more substantial building, was erected beside the western tip of the cemetery site, because in 1855 two mutli-denominational wooden churches were erected elsewhere within the camp. The cemetery opened for the first burial in 1855. Early burial records are distributed amongst the camp's churches and it was not until 1875 when the Royal Engineers were given responsibility for the care and management of the cemetery that separate burial records were started. The 1872 OS map shows paths adorned with elaborate ornamental planting across the north-east half of the new cemetery and only the outline layout of paths to the south-west, suggesting the former as the area first used for burials. In 1879 the wooden mortuary chapel was replaced with the present brick and slate structure, the architect of which is not known, and in about the same period, the cemetery was expanded to its present size, being extended slightly to the south-east as far as the then new Ordnance Road and south-west to take in part of Peaked Hill. The age of many of the mature trees suggests that the whole of the remainder of the cemetery ground was planted at this time. As the area has not been extended any further after the 1880s, in places the ground holds its second or third burials, with 1864 the oldest recorded stone. The site remains (2003) in active use as a military cemetery in the ownership and management of the Ministry of Defence.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Aldershot Military Cemetery is located in the north-east quarter of the town. The c 6ha site occupies steeply sloping ground which falls from the chapel on the high point in the west, down to a chain-link fence along Ordnance Road which forms the east and south-east boundary. Iron railings divide the cemetery from the wooded slopes of Peaked Hill, Round Hill, and Thorn Hill and these form the remaining boundaries, beyond which lie the buildings of the military camp. The setting of the cemetery is urban, but the steepness of the slope affords filtered views south and south-east across the town to the hills beyond. These would have been more extensive before the trees reached maturity.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main entrance is located off Gallwey Road which runs between Thorn Hill and Round Hill, touching the western tip of the cemetery where the main iron gates stand, flanked by iron railings and a beech hedge. The tarmac drive is bordered by mature trees, including cedar of Lebanon and plane with dense evergreen shrubs beneath, and leads to a wide tarmac area surrounding the chapel on the level ground at the top of the cemetery. From Ordnance Road a second drive enters the site in the eastern corner and runs south-west parallel with the road before turning north to climb up through the cemetery to the chapel.
The main building on the site is the 1879 chapel. This building, of relatively plain design, is constructed of red brick, with black and white brick dressing under a slate roof and has wrought-iron gates at the entrance porch on the north front. The roof is surmounted by a small lead-covered pinnacle bell tower. The designer is not known but it is likely to have been one of the Royal Engineers who were responsible for the cemetery by the time the permanent chapel was erected.
The chapel occupies a small area of ground to the west of the main cemetery and as the drive leaves the building the boundaries open out and the ground begins to fall away to the south and east to reveal the burial ground. Drives and paths flow through the area in a series of interconnecting serpentine routes which descend the slopes gently. These are ornamented with a wide variety of mature trees and shrubs, many of which are evergreen. The tree collection is diverse, containing several conifers including Wellingtonias and cedars, as well as mature limes and planes. Banks of evergreen shrubs such as laurel and rhododendron, together with clipped yews, help divide and define the different areas of the burial ground. A significant number of the trees appear to be contemporary with the creation of the cemetery, with some additions of a later date. The concentration of mature cedars of Lebanon in the south and south-west corners where they line the main drive and extend into a large grove along the Peaked Hill boundary appears to date from the 1880s, marking the areas into which the cemetery extended when Ordnance Road was laid out.
The burials are divided into sections to serve the different denominations using the cemetery and there are also designated areas for children, officers, prisoners of war, and Falklands War dead, as well as for the casualties of the two World Wars. The war memorial is located in the south-west corner, on the slope of the hill overlooking Ordnance Road. The path network appears to form the boundary between many of these sections but the irregular size of each area retains an informal character to the layout. This is accentuated by the trees and shrubs which generally are planted informally in mixed and single species groups of trees in the style of a C19 arboretum.
Aldershot Military Cemetery Tour Handout, guide leaflet (photocopy), (Aldershot Historical and Archaeological Society)
Ward David J, A life never dies - Aldershot Military cemetery (unpublished pamphlet 1987) [copy on EH file]
Aldershot military camp layout maps, 1853-4 (Hampshire County Record Office)
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1870
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1872-88
2nd edition published 1897
3rd edition published 1910
Burial records, 1870-85 (Aldershot Military Historical Trust)
The Camp Adjutant holds records of burials from 1886 onwards.
Personal communication from Ian E Tebbett.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
Aldershot Military Cemetery is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* The cemetery is a good example of an early High Victorian garden cemetery (1855) with an extension, in similar style, of 1879.
* The cemetery was laid out by the Royal Engineers as part of the creation of Aldershot Military Camp.
* The site survives intact and retains significant original planting.
* The cemetery contains a good collection of funerary monuments reflecting the history of the British Army at Aldershot.
* The cemetery contains a large War Graves section and War memorial commemorating service men killed in the First and Second World Wars.
Description written: January 2003
Amended: March 2003
Register Inspector: EMP
Edited: December 2009
This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 16 August 2017.