Mid C19 public cemetery laid out by Barnett and Birch, planted by James Wright, with late C19 extension.
The Burial Board of the parish of St Marylebone purchased 25 acres (c 10ha) of land and founded the cemetery in 1854. The ground on which the cemetery was to be laid out was rural land, part of Newmarket Farm. A competition in January 1854 to design the buildings and layout of the cemetery was won by the architects Barnett and Birch Ltd. With a budget of £15,000, Barnett and Birch designed the two chapels together with the lodge and entrance and the cemetery was planted by James Wright. Work started on the buildings in May 1854 and in March 1855 St Marylebone Cemetery was consecrated by the Bishop of London.
In 1893 an area of land adjoining the cemetery to the west was purchased. The extension is not shown on the 2nd edition OS map published in 1894 but does appear on the 1914 edition.
In 1965 the Borough of St Marylebone was incorporated into the City of Westminster and the cemetery was then administered by Westminster City Council and renamed East Finchley Cemetery. In 1987 the council sold it, together with two other cemeteries, to private developers for fifteen pence. Following a period of neglect and public controversy, Westminster purchased the cemetery back and it continues (2000) to be owned by them and is currently managed and maintained under contract. St Marylebone Crematorium is now in private ownership. The Barnett and Birch ragstone buildings (chapels and lodges) were restored in 1994-6.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
St Marylebone Cemetery, c 15ha, is located to the north of the Hampstead Garden Suburb, in the London Borough of Barnet. It is bounded by the East End Road to the north-east, playing fields, Brookland Primary School, and the North Circular Road to the west and north-west, the gardens of houses on Ludlow Way and Denison Close to the east, and gardens of houses along Hill Top to the south. There are walls around most of the boundaries, with a low wall supporting iron fencing along the north-east boundary. The cemetery is laid out on sloping ground, with a fall from north to south. There are good views from the higher ground in the northern part of the cemetery over the southern part and beyond to the churches in Hampstead Garden Suburb.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main approach to the cemetery is from East End Road to the north-east. A pair of mid C19 entrance gates with gothic gateposts are connected by a low stone wall on which spiked iron railings are mounted. The gates and walls are set back from the road, with a lawn in front. The western entrance, with a gothic lodge (1850s, listed grade II with the northern boundary wall and railings), is surmounted by an archway. The entrance drives curve in from each gate to meet in the middle.
The 1930s approach to the crematorium is from a junction off East End Road in the north-west corner of the cemetery. This entrance has two small, single-storey octagonal gatehouses designed by Edwin Cooper (1937, listed grade II). The drive, Sycamore Avenue, leads southwards towards the crematorium, 150m to the south.
The Church of England (Episcopal) chapel (Barnett and Birch 1854, listed grade II), in Decorated Gothic style, stands to the south of the semicircular entrance drive. It has a crocketed spire over the entrance. Further south and on the west side of the original cemetery is the smaller, and plainer, Dissenters or Nonconformist chapel (Barnett and Birch 1854, listed grade II). The Italianate red-brick Crematorium and Chapel (listed grade II), located in the western part of the cemetery, was designed by Sir Edwin Cooper in 1937 for the Borough of St Marylebone.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
Near the entrance to the original (eastern) part of the cemetery there are two large cedars (planted in 1856) and other mature trees and shrubs within the semicircular area formed by the entrance drive. The original (mid C19) part of the cemetery (c 9ha) runs north/south from the main entrance. The northern half is laid out with three avenues: a central, straight avenue and two curving avenues on either side, forming an oval circuit. The Church of England chapel lies at the northern end of this oval (with the avenues merging from this point with the entrance drives), and the Glenesk Mausoleum (listed grade II) at the southern end. The Mausoleum was designed by Arthur Blomfield for Lord Glenesk in 1899 and is a rectangular building in limestone, with corner buttresses and a slate roof.
In the southern half of the original cemetery, the three avenues continue southwards as parallel linear drives, known as West, Central, and East Avenues. The avenues are connected at their southern ends by Southern Avenue, which runs west/east. Acacia Avenue runs parallel, and to the west of, Western Avenue and leads north from Southern Avenue to the Nonconformist chapel, which is located within an area of tarmac between Acacia Avenue and Western Avenue. The unconsecrated ground which surrounded the chapel was divided from the rest of the ground in the 1850s by ornamental post-and-chain fencing (removed C20). A curving drive, Rosemary Avenue, leads through the south-east corner of the cemetery, connecting Eastern Avenue with the southern end of Central Avenue.
There are avenues of yew and other conifers along most of the avenues. Central Avenue was planted in the 1850s with an avenue of poplars but these were felled in 1887 and replaced by yew trees. There are scattered mature trees throughout the C19 cemetery (mostly evergreens, conifers, and oaks) and some shrubs amongst the densely laid out graves. An area in the south-east corner is more open with grass and scattered trees.
There are many notable Edwardian monuments which have been strategically placed at the main junctions. The monuments include six which are listed grade II: the memorial to Harry Ripley (William Reid Dick c 1914) of a bronze draped figure on a granite plinth, on Cypress Avenue; opposite the Ripley monument is the memorial to Thomas Tate (F Lynn Jenkins c 1909) of a bronze draped Roman figure on a sarcophagus; the large monument to Sir Peter Nicol Russell (Sir Edgar MacKennal early C20) to the east of the Church of England chapel, a bronze group against a tall pedestal; the pink polished granite monument to Sir Henry Bishop, with a bronze portrait medallion, on a stone base off Central Avenue; the stone screen monument to Sir Robert Harmsworth and family by Edwin Lutyens off West Avenue; and the massive sarcophagus monument to Thomas Skarratt Hall (d 1903) and his family in polished pink granite on a stone plinth off West Avenue.
The cemetery extension (6ha) in the north-west corner of the site is laid out on a square grid plan of straight drives, with formal arrangements of graves set within garden areas. The land was taken into the cemetery in the late C19 but was not laid out until the 1930s. Oak Tree Avenue (terminated at its east end by an oak tree) runs west/east along the southern end of the extension and Cypress Avenue runs west/east across the centre. The crematorium (1937) is located in the south-west corner of the extension and the entrance drive runs down the eastern boundary of this area, linking the crematorium to the entrance from East End Road. To the south of the crematorium are an informal memorial garden known as Willow Tree Gardens and an area of lawn graves, both developed in the late C20 (outside the area here registered). A drive leads north along the east side of the crematorium and terminates at a war memorial near the northern boundary of the cemetery. A small plot of military graves, 'Soldiers' Corner', is located on Remembrance Avenue.
H Meller, London Cemeteries (1981), pp 56-63
B Cherry and N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4 North (1998), p 122
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1868
2nd edition published 1894
3rd edition published 1913
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
East Finchley Cemetery is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* A good example of a High Victorian (18454-55) public cemetery for the Metropolis.
* Notable designers (Barnett & Birch Ltd) provided a creative layout.
* The layout and structures survive largely intact in good condition.
* Local and national social interest is expressed in a rich variety of 19th and early 20th century monuments.
* The cemetery contains a good early 20th century crematorium and memorial cloister (1937) by Sir Edwin Cooper.
Description written: December 1998
Amended: March 2000
Register Inspector: CB
Edited: November 2003
Upgraded: November 2009
This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 11 July 2017.