London's first crematorium and England's first purpose-designed crematorium landscape, opened in 1902, with buildings by Sir Ernest George and Alfred Yeates and landscaping by William Robinson.
Golders Green Crematorium, established by the London Cremation Society, was opened in 1902 by Sir Henry Thompson, president of the Cremation Society of England. Prior to 1902, Londoners wishing to be cremated had used the Woking Crematorium, opened in 1885. Golders Green was planned to be within easy driving distance of central London and it rapidly became the most important crematorium in England. Since it opened, well over a quarter of a million cremations have taken place here. The land was purchased in 1900 at a cost of £6000 and the cost of the buildings completed in 1902 was £21,000. Sir Ernest George and his partner Alfred Yeates were employed to design the buildings. They envisaged a range of red-brick buildings in a Lombardic style, which would be linked by a 240 foot (c 74m) south cloister, but the buildings were constructed in several phases as money became available, over a period of almost forty years. The initial landscaping was by the gardener William Robinson, who was a director of the company (Meller 1994).
Photographs published in The Cremation Society's booklet Cremation in Great Britain (1931) show the crematorium gardens very similar to today (2001). New garden areas have been added at the southern end of the gardens but the general layout of the gardens has been little altered.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Golders Green Crematorium with its landscape of c 5.5ha, is located to the east of Golders Green and north of Hampstead, in the London Borough of Barnet. The gardens are laid out on a wedge-shaped plot of land with the main buildings along the north side. The site is bounded by Hoop Lane to the north, Wild Hatch road to the north-east, the gardens of the houses on Hampstead Way to the east, and the gardens of the houses on Corringham Road to the west and south. The boundaries are marked by red-brick walls (Ernest George and Alfred Yeates 1901-11, listed Grade II together with the gates and attached memorials). The crematorium gardens are laid out on gently undulating ground. There are views along the main paths and across the gardens and some limited views to the surrounding houses to the west and east as well as more extensive views to the south.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The Crematorium is approached through a gated entrance (listed Grade II, together with the walls and other gates) from Hoop Lane to the north, which leads directly into a courtyard, used as a car park. This is connected to a further courtyard to the west, also used as a car park, from which there is an exit back onto Hoop Lane. There is a works entrance on the east side of the garden from the south end of Wild Hatch.
The buildings (together listed Grade II) front on to Hoop Lane in an extensive, informal range. The group is built in red brick, with rounded windows and pantile roofs, largely in Romanesque Lombardic style. The group includes from west to east: West Columbarium (Ernest George and Alfred Yeates 1902-03); Reception Block (c 1930); West Chapel (Ernest George and Alfred Yeates 1901-03); East Chapel (Mitchell and Bridgewater 1938-39); Bedford Chapel (1911); East Columbarium (1911-13); Ernest George Columbarium (Alfred Yeates 1922-28); and Chapel of Memory and Chapel of Memory Columbarium (Mitchell and Bridgewater 1938-39). These buildings are linked to the south by a single-storey spine of cloisters including the Exedral Cloister, the West and East Cloisters, and the Chapel of Memory Cloister. The numerous wall plaques are included in the Grade II listing.
Further information on the buildings in the complex and how they relate to each other can be found in the listed building description.
The landscaped grounds are laid out to the south of the range of buildings. There are formal elements at the northern end along the main path which runs from west to east across the south side of the buildings. At the west end of the path is a War Memorial, a stone Ionic porticoed temple with a segmented pediment, and a formal lily pond (both 1919-20 and together listed Grade II with the other buildings), while at the east end the path terminates near the Martin Smith Mausoleum (1904-05, listed Grade II), designed by Paul Phipps in a Baroque Revival style. The single-storey mausoleum has a square plan and is built in brick with Portland stone dressings.
To the north of the Martin Smith Mausoleum, in the north-east corner of the gardens and at the east end of the range of buildings, is the Cloister Garden or Exedral Cloister. This garden is backed by the red-brick boundary wall which curves around at this point to form an exedra. It forms the remains of the pergola laid out with the advice of William Robinson in 1907.
The remaining garden areas, which lie to the south of the main path, are laid out informally. On the far side of the main path from the buildings is a large open lawn, planted with large numbers of crocuses. The lawn is flanked on either side by a path lined with shrub and rose beds and backed by a belt of trees around the perimeter. These paths, known as Western Path and Eastern Path, run along each side of the garden and join at the southern end. The Philipson Mausoleum (Sir Edwin Lutyens 1914-15, listed Grade II*) faces the Eastern Path (c 90m south-east of the Martin Smith Mausoleum). The mausoleum is a circular, single-storey building with a domed roof and is built in Portland stone. It has a narrow external corridor enclosed by a stone lattice screen. Further south and in the belt of trees on the eastern edge of the gardens (c 130m south-east of the Martin Smith Mausoleum), is a bronze statue (Henry Pegram RA c 1924, listed Grade II) of a shrouded figure raising a girl above a sea of souls, titled Into the Silent Land. This was a gift to the crematorium from the Royal Society of Arts in 1937 and was originally positioned on the lawn but was moved to its present position in the late C20. Just off the Western Path, on the edge of the lawn, is a standing bronze figure in memory of Ghanshyam da Birla (1983), c 50m south-east of the War Memorial. Between the Western Path and the west boundary wall is a small garden laid out in the late C20 as a children's garden.
To the south of the open lawn (over which ashes can be scattered) is Cedar Lawn, on which there is a sundial which was moved to this position in the late C20 from the south side of the main path. This lawn is crossed by a path and is surrounded by scattered trees and rose and shrub beds; it divides the dispersal lawn to the north from the Southern Garden, laid out as an informal woodland garden. The Southern Garden is terminated at the southern end by the late C20 Horder Garden and Horder Copse. The Horder Garden is laid out around two ponds and is crossed by a path which leads over a bridge. The Horder Alpine Garden at the southern end of the garden was laid out in 1999.
The planting is extensive and varied, with formal beds of standard roses along the main path, beds of informal shrubs and roses around the other paths, and flowering trees and mature broadleaves and conifers.
There are no graves in the Crematorium gardens and the main memorials are the two mausoleums and a few statues. There are numerous memorial plaques and commemorative tablets on the boundary and cloister walls, in the columbaria, or adjacent to specific plants. Those who have been cremated here include Sir Henry Irving (1905), W S Gilbert (1911), HH the Maharajah Sir Nripendra of Cooch-Behar (1911), Bram Stoker (1912), Sir Ernest George (1922), Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1928), Anna Pavlova (1931), William Robinson (1935), Rudyard Kipling (1936), Sigmund Freud (1939), Neville Chamberlain (1940), Sir Edwin Lutyens (1944), H G Wells (1946), Stanley Baldwin (1947), George Bernard Shaw (1950), Kathleen Ferrier (1953), Sir Alexander Fleming (1955), Ralph Vaughan Williams (1958), T S Eliot (1965), Vivien Leigh (1967), Joe Orton (1967), Emanuel 'Manny' Shinwell (1986), Ray Ellington (1986), Kingsley Amis (1995), and Ronnie Scott (1996).
H Jones and G A Noble, Cremation in Great Britain (1931), pp 37?43, 114, 145, 148
B Weinreb and C Hibbert (eds), The London Encyclopaedia (1983), p 1354
H Meller, London Cemeteries (3rd edn 1994), pp 128-34
C Brooks, English Historic Cemeteries, (English Heritage theme study 1994), p 76
B Cherry and N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4 North (1998), pp 135-6
The London Cremation Company plc, Brief History of Golders Green Crematorium (nd)
The London Cremation Company plc, Some Persons cremated at Golders Green Crematorium (nd)
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1920 edition
OS 25" to 1 mile: 2nd edition published 1894
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
Golders Green Crematorium is designated at Grade I for the following principal reasons:
* The most notable and influential of early crematorium sites (1900-02)
* The earliest crematorium landscape sited outside a cemetery, designed to be a garden.
* The earliest crematorium landscape built to serve the Metropolis.
* The buildings and landscape design are of creative and high quality by designers of note, dominated by monumental buildings by Sir Ernest George and Alfred Yeates.
* The informal open landscape by the renowned landscape writer and designer William Robinson is a pioneering example and demonstrates his belief that the lawn should be at the centre of a garden.
* The free-standing monuments are few but of high quality.
* A rich variety of national social, religious and artistic historical interest is expressed in a notable collection of mausolea, other monuments and, most extensively, many hundreds of memorial plaques.
Description written: October 2001
Register Inspector: CB
Edited: April 2002
Upgraded: November 2009