A late Victorian cemetery opened in 1899 on the south-east edge of Birmingham, laid out by the District Surveyor to a grid-pattern with impressive avenue planting along the main paths.
Established by King's Norton Rural District Council and opened for burial in 1899, Brandwood End Cemetery became the property of Birmingham City Council in 1911 when the city boundaries were extended under the Greater Birmingham Act. King's Norton was one of the largest of the administrative districts surrounding Birmingham at the end of the C19. The huge and rapid increase in population during the 1880s which followed the introduction of rail and tram routes into the suburbs created considerable pressure on burial space within the parish. The existing graveyards were closed for new burial and could not be extended. The local authority resolved to establish a cemetery in the north of the district where population growth was greatest, but experienced some difficulty in finding a suitable site. An area of farmland was finally acquired for the purpose at Brandwood End, near King's Heath in 1895, within the parish of King's Norton. Brandwood End was formally opened on 13 April 1899 by George Tallis, Chairman of the Cemetery Committee, with the first interment taking place on 15 April 1899.
The cemetery authorities continued to acquire land, buying ground to the west of the original purchase in 1915, and to the east in 1917, 1920, and 1950. Further small parcels of ground were acquired in 1967 and 1996. In 1919 two acres (c 0.8ha) of land in the southern part of the original purchase were sold to the local Jewish community for use as a cemetery. This burial ground (outside the area here registered) was developed separately from Brandwood End Cemetery and contains its own octagonal mortuary chapel.
Brandwood End cemetery is owned and managed by Birmingham City Council (2000).
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Brandwood End Cemetery is situated in King's Heath, c 7km south of Birmingham city centre. The setting is generally residential. The c 20ha, slightly southwards-sloping site lies south of Woodthorpe Road. The site is bounded to the east by a school, and to the south of this housing; to the south by Broad Lane itself in the east and housing facing onto Broad Lane in the west; by housing on Brandwood Road and Wych Avenue to the south-west; by allotment gardens to the north-west; and further housing to the north off Woodthorpe Road. The boundary is marked principally by the original iron railings, which are combined with lines of trees or shrubbery, although the railings have in parts been replaced by wooden fencing belonging to the gardens of the surrounding housing. The boundary with the Jewish cemetery is marked by strips of grass and trees.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main entrance today (2000) is situated on the south side of Woodthorpe Road and consists of a wrought-iron gate with flanking pedestrian gates and ornamental iron lantern cradles. A photograph taken in 1933 and the OS map of 1938 indicate that the gates formerly stood adjacent to the entrance lodge, c 180m south of their present position. The boundary to the north of the gates is marked by an iron fence, and to the south by a wooden enclosure. The main approach, planted with a horse chestnut avenue, leads south-west from the main gates to the former main entrance near to the lodge. The Jacobethan lodge is, like the chapels, constructed of red brick and terracotta. It was built to contain the living quarters for the cemetery superintendent and the cemetery office. The drive continues south-east, passing along the carriageway under the porte-cochère before eventually terminating at an entrance on Broad Lane on the southern boundary of the site. The OS map of 1938 illustrates the main drive ending at the then boundary of the cemetery ground c 160m north of Broad Lane, the main axis being extended after the purchase of further land to the south. A second entrance on Broad Lane, 80m east of that into the main cemetery, gives access to the Jewish Cemetery.
Two chapels (listed grade II) situated at the highest point in the grounds in the centre of a carriage turn provide the centrepiece of the cemetery layout. The twin chapels, linked by a central porte-cochère, were designed by J Brewin Holmes, a local architect, in a Gothic style and constructed from red brick and terracotta. Above the central porte-cochère rises a spire in red terracotta. The western chapel was for Anglicans, the eastern one for Nonconformists, but neither is now in use after a blaze severely damaged the latter.
Brandwood End Cemetery is designed on a near-symmetrical grid-pattern about a north-west/south-east axis. This strong axis is established by the main drive striking obliquely across the grounds from the lodge in the north to the Broad Lane entrance in the south. The approach, planted along the northern stretch with an avenue of horse chestnuts and flanked by yew, privet, box, and avenues of pines, takes in the carriage turn around the chapels, and further south, the rondpoints in which stand the white stone First World War memorial cross and a single mature oak. The dominant feature within the cemetery is the chapels, while along the central axis of the grid-plan to the south War Cross Island and Oak Tree Island are prominent.
Various species of trees are planted as avenues or rows along almost every walk, including two avenues of mature Wellingtonia terminating at the War Cross Island. Later extensions of the cemetery ground continue the grid-plan and again paths are planted with avenues of different species of trees including horse chestnut, sycamore, and hornbeam to the west, poplars to the south, and birches to the east. The more recent parts of the cemetery are dominated by deciduous planting, the original ground by conifers including avenues of Scots pine, cypress, and Wellingtonia. A mature monkey puzzle tree stands to the east of the chapels. The dark green foliage of the evergreens provides a striking contrast with the red terracotta of the chapels and the cemetery lodge. A Cross of Sacrifice on the War Cross Island, erected in 1929 in memory of those who died in the First World War, stands in the central avenue c 120m south-east of the chapels. Below this to the east of the drive lies the Memorial Garden laid out in 1952 in memory of the civilian war dead. Some 200m south-east of the chapels a single mature oak stands at the centre of a rondpoint called Oak Tree Island. This tree marks the former end-point of the main drive, which was later extended to Broad Lane.
The graves within the cemetery are arranged predominantly in a grid lying parallel to the main axis. Some areas have been cleared of memorials but many monuments survive, especially in the area around the chapels.
Opposite the cemetery lodge to the north are situated a C20 lavatory in red brick and a service yard. A wild area lies in the north-west corner of the ground to the west which was acquired in 1915.
Brooks C, Mortal Remains (1989)
Brooks C, English Historic Cemeteries, (English Heritage theme study 1994)
Brandwood End Cemetery, Information Leaflet, (Cemetery Office, nd)
Survey map of Brandwood End Cemetery, nd (Department of Planning and Architecture, Birmingham City Council)
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1938 edition
Photograph, 1933 (Cemetery Office)
King's Norton Rural District Council Minutes (Birmingham Reference Library Archive)
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
Brandwood End Cemetery is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Brandwood End Cemetery is a late Victorian cemetery (1899) laid out for a Burial Board serving King's Norton, a rapidly developing area adjoining Birmingham which was added to the City in 1911.
* The cemetery chapels and lodge were designed by the Birmingham architect J Brewin Holmes in distinctive red brick and terracotta, with Art Nouveau and Gothic details.
* The cemetery is laid out to a nearly symmetrical grid pattern, with the straight drives and the rond-point junctions planted with avenues of different tree species.
* The layout of the cemetery, including the chapels, lodge and avenue planting survives intact.
* The cemetery contains a collection of early-C20 funerary monuments, a War memorial (1929) and a Memorial Garden commemorating civilian War dead (1952).
* The cemetery contains an enclosed Jewish burial ground which was established in 1919 as an extension to the original site. It contains an octagonal prayer hall.
Description written: July 2000
Amended: October 2001
Register Inspector: PS
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, 18 January 2017.