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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Manchester (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 87228 99331


A public cemetery opened in 1866 and completed in 1867. The layout was designed by William Gay and the buildings by Paull and Ayliffe. Philips Park Cemetery was the first municipal public cemetery in Manchester and is adjacent to Philips Park (qv), opened in 1846.


In 1863 Manchester Corporation held an open competition for the design of a cemetery to be laid out on grounds to the north of the River Medlock (Brooks 1989). The land was reported as being the former site of St Ann's Rectory (The Builder 1867), while the 1848 OS map shows a property named as 'The Grange', with a formal garden and two lakes sited to the west. From forty entries submitted, designs by Manchester architects Paull and Ayliffe were selected for the buildings, and those of William Gay (1814?93) of Bradford were chosen for the engineering works and for the laying out of the grounds and approaches (ibid). Gay also designed Undercliffe Cemetery (qv), Saltaire Park (qv), and Horton Park (qv), all in West Yorkshire, as well as Toxteth Park Cemetery (qv) in Liverpool. Some 18.5ha of land had been purchased, but boundary roads and approaches reduced the area to c 16.5ha within the cemetery walls (ibid).

Features of Gay's design were the siting of the main entrance at the west corner, the closest point to the city centre, and an arterial road running from this entrance through the centre of the site to the eastern end (ibid). The site was apportioned between denominations with c 8ha at the western end for the Church of England, c 5.5ha for Dissenters at the centre, and c 3ha for Roman Catholics at the eastern end. Each section had its own chapel with separate entrances for Dissenters and Roman Catholics. The chapels differed in composition (Pevsner 1969), but were all described as being in the 'transitional period of Gothic architecture' (The Builder 1867). The contractor was W Storr of Stalybridge, with roads, drainage, and earthworks by Israel Thornton and laying out and planting by the Corporation who recruited unemployed cotton operatives for the work (ibid). In 1867 the total cost was estimated to be about £60,000 (ibid), while in 1915 it was noted that c 30ha of land had been purchased for £14,144 and that £52,874 had been spent on laying out the ground and erecting buildings (Illustrated Handbook).

In 1872 the River Medlock flooded, washing away tombstones and a large number of bodies from the Roman Catholic area of the cemetery (Manchester Courier, 15 March 1872, quoted by Ruff 2000). In the subsequent enquiry it was claimed that the low-lying ground near the river had originally been intended for walks and shrubs rather than burial (Ruff 2000). In 1873 a stone rubble wall was constructed along the banks of the river but erosion continued to be a problem until the riverbed was paved in 1909 (ibid).

A fourth mortuary chapel, for Jews, stood immediately to the south of the Bank Street entrance to the Dissenters or Nonconformist area (OS 1893).

Philips Park Cemetery remains (2001) in use and in the ownership of Manchester City Council.


LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING The cemetery is situated c 3.5km east-north-east of Manchester city centre and is c 16.5ha in area. To the south the park is bounded by the River Medlock, which separates the cemetery from Philips Park. The river flows west in an open culvert with level banks and central channel, both faced in red terracotta brick, at the foot of a c 2.4m high stone wall at the base of a steep embankment. A belt of trees and shrubs marks the head of the embankment.

To the west the cemetery is bounded by Alan Turing Way (formerly Mill Street) and marked by a 1.4m high stone boundary wall topped with 0.3m high C20 railings between stone piers. The northern boundary to Briscoe Lane and Riverpark Road (both formerly Cemetery Road) is generally marked by a stone retaining wall with a castellated coping, c 2.5m above road level and c 3.5 ? 4.5m above the cemetery ground level, with brick buttresses within the cemetery. Two sections of the wall are reduced in height. The first section on Briscoe Lane extends from c 120m to c 250m north-west of the principal entrance and at road level comprises a stone coping topped with 1.2m high C20 railings and allows views of the Anglican mortuary chapel. Socket holes in the copings give evidence of former railings. The second section on Riverpark Road extends from c 100m to c 210m east of the Dissenters' Entrance where the wall reduces to c 1.2m above road level and allows a view along a north/south axis path in the Nonconformist area. The cemetery is divided in two unequal parts by Bank Street, which runs south-east from Riverpark Road 690m east-north-east of the principal entrance. The eastern boundary is marked by 2m high C20 metal fencing. The east, west, and north-west boundaries, together with the majority of the north boundary, are also marked by a line of trees within the cemetery.

In the west of the cemetery, to the north of the arterial road, the ground rises steeply to the north-west. To the south of the arterial road the ground falls very gently towards the river embankment with, to the east, two plateaux bounded by deep southern bends in the river. The surrounding area is in mixed use with a 2002 Commonwealth Games stadium under construction to the south-west (2001) and light industrial properties to the north. Philips Park lies to the south and is linked to the cemetery by a footbridge. A former industrial site which lies to the south of a northern bend in the river and to the north-east of Philips Park is now landscaped as a country park and is accessed by a bridge from Bank Street.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES The principal entrance lies at the west end of the cemetery, at the junction of Alan Turing Way and Briscoe Lane, and is set back between curving stone walls with railings. It is marked by two carriage entrances flanked by two pedestrian entrances set between sandstone gate piers, all with wrought-iron gates (the whole listed grade II). From the evidence of a 1901 photograph, the pedestrian entrances are a C20 alteration. The large central pier is in the form of a splay-footed spire on a square base. The entrance design is by Paull and Ayliffe. North of the entrance stands the cemetery office and to the south a lodge (each listed grade II), both dating from 1867 and by Paull and Ayliffe. The buildings are in an eclectic Gothic style in sandstone below steeply pitched blue slate roofs and form a group with the entrance. Both buildings are now (2001) in a derelict condition.

The cemetery has three other vehicular entrances from Riverpark Road to the north, which was constructed to serve the cemetery. All are similar comprising a carriage entrance with C19 iron gates between sandstone gate piers flanked by low stone walls topped with C19 railings. The first lies 410m north-east of the principal entrance and is set in a stagger in the boundary wall, facing north-west. The gate piers are inscribed: 'Philips Park Cemetery' on the north pier, and 'Dissenters Entrance' on the south pier. The two further entrances lie opposite each other, on either side of Bank Street, c 690m east-north-east of the principal entrance and 10m south of Riverpark Road. The east entrance gives access to the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery with the south gate pier inscribed 'Philips Park Cemetery / Roman Catholic Entrance'. A lodge indicated to the north of this entrance on the 1893 OS map no longer (2001) remains. The west entrance leads to the main part of the cemetery with the Jewish section immediately to the south-west. To the south of this entrance, two plain stone gate piers set in the boundary wall indicate a former pedestrian entrance which would have led to a small Jewish mortuary chapel, indicated on the 1893 OS map but no longer (2001) extant. An iron girder footbridge over the River Medlock with C19 and C20 railings, situated 460m east of the principal entrance on the south boundary, gives access to Philips Park to the south. A bridge in this location was recorded at the opening of the park in 1848 (Ruff 2000).

PRINCIPAL BUILDING The Anglican mortuary chapel (listed grade II) is sited on high ground 190m north-east of the principal entrance. It is the only one remaining of four mortuary chapels indicated on the 1893 OS map. The building is in the Decorated style with coursed sandstone rubble walls below a steeply pitched roof and with a tower with spire to the south-east. It is now (2001) in a derelict condition.

OTHER LAND The irregularly shaped cemetery grounds are divided by Bank Street, with the Roman Catholic section lying to the east and the Anglican, Nonconformist, and Jewish areas to the west. All areas are linked by the 4m wide arterial road which follows a shallow serpentine route eastwards from the principal entrance, continuing across Bank Street to the centre of the Roman Catholic area.

Immediately east of the principal entrance a grassed triangular area, south-east of the cemetery office, is defined by the arterial road to the south and a path curving up to the north-west to form a perimeter path following the line of the Briscoe Lane boundary. Opposite, and to the south of the arterial road, is a war memorial to servicemen who died in the First World War who are buried in the cemetery. Engraved metal tablets are set in a low stone wall set behind a free-standing c 3m high stone cross. The memorial is flanked by two oval planting beds set in grass, the whole backed by a dense screen of trees and shrubs to the south.

Some 60m east of the principal entrance a minor path runs south and a 3.5m wide road branches north-east from the arterial road to form a shallow serpentine approach to the Anglican chapel. The junction with the arterial road is marked by a polished red granite monument, dated 1898, in memory of William Allan. From the chapel the approach road curves south-east to rejoin the arterial road 320m east of the principal entrance. Between this route and the arterial road there is a formal layout of pathways centred on an axis path running c 180m south-south-east from the chapel, across the arterial road, towards the southern boundary. Two grassed paths lead off the axis path 65m south-south-east of the chapel to form a short cross axis, each path terminating c 14m from the axis path at a circular arrangement of graves set around a central tree. From these circular features grassed paths run parallel to the main axis, south-south-east to the arterial road and beyond. The grassed paths are partly obstructed by trees and, to the south of the arterial road, contain late C20 graves. Each of the two circular grave features forms the hub of an outer path, each of which forms a segment of an 80m diameter circle between intersections with the chapel axis path and the arterial road. North of the arterial road each of the segment paths divides, with the second path curving back away from the circle to meet the arterial road.

From the north-west corner of the Anglican chapel a path leads directly north-north-west to join the perimeter path from the principal entrance. The perimeter path turns south 80m north-east of the chapel defining a semicircular area adjacent to the north boundary and forming a cusp with the chapel road before leading north to the Dissenters' Entrance. A glasshouse and entrance indicated on the 1893 OS map to the north-east of the semicircular area no longer (2001) remain.

Immediately to the south-east of the Dissenters' Entrance the entrance road divides around a raised 9m diameter circular grassed bed enclosed with 0.5m high stone walls. A similar feature, 2m in diameter, lies 20m south of the entrance and similar walling which encloses a raised bed immediately to the east of the entrance has a date stone marked 1976. From the entrance area a principal path leads east to join the arterial road after c 160m. The main part of this path is grassed. A further path leads south-south-west from the entrance area, dividing after 50m to branch west and east, both routes curving to junctions with the arterial road. Some 80m south-east of the entrance the arterial road widens to the north to form a forecourt to the site of the Nonconformist mortuary chapel. The chapel site, north of the arterial road, is marked by a grassed area set within low stone walls.

The south-west area of the main cemetery, south of the arterial road, generally has a more informal layout with areas of rough grass adjacent to the south and west boundary with areas of gravestones laid flat and mostly overgrown.

Immediately to the east of the Nonconformist chapel site a curve in the south boundary with the River Medlock reduces the north/south width of the cemetery to c 100m and a short path curves south from the arterial road to the footbridge to Philips Park. East of the footbridge the river boundary loops sharply south to a point c 210m south of the northern boundary before returning sharply north to a point c 35m south of the northern boundary, immediately to the south-west of Bank Street. The cemetery area within this southern loop is bisected by a path running directly south from the arterial road from a junction 540m east-north-east of the principal entrance.

To the south of the west entrance from Bank Street lies a small Jewish burial ground. The western boundary of this area is marked by C20 concrete fencing, partly collapsed, and the northern boundary to the arterial road by a low stone wall surmounted by c 0.45m high ornate C19 iron posts. Sockets in the posts indicate a single horizontal rail now (2001) missing.

From the east entrance from Bank Street the arterial road curves east-south-east for 70m to the centre of the Roman Catholic area of the cemetery which contains the site of the former Roman Catholic mortuary chapel. The square chapel site is marked by a 0.6m high C20 cross and a plaque recording that the chapel was demolished in 1971 and a garden area created as a memorial. The garden no longer (2001) remains. Paths lead out at right angles from the centre of the four sides of the central area. The path to the west intersects, after c 10m, with a path running north-west to join the arterial road. From this junction a further path curves north-east from the arterial road to form a shallow arc within the northern boundary, joined at its centre by the northern path from the chapel site. The path leading south from the chapel site is grassed and other grassed areas between lines of gravestones indicate a formerly more extensive path layout.

The cemetery contains a number of graves of historical interest. These include two survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade, a recipient of the Victoria Cross for bravery at the battle of Rorke's Drift in 1879, a family who perished during the sinking of the Lusitania in the First World War, and a First Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps, killed in action, aged twenty-two, during the First World War.


The Builder, 25 (24 August 1867), p 632 Illustrated Handbook of Manchester City Parks (1915), p 17 Manchester Corporation Parks and Cemeteries Department Short Historical Survey (1938), p 20 N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Lancashire South (1969), p 304 C Brooks, Mortal Remains (1989), pp 54, 106 H Conway, People's Parks: The Design and Development of Victorian Parks (1991), p 42 A Ruff, The Biography of Philips Park, Manchester 1846-1996 (2000), pp 87-9

Maps OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1848 1931 edition OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1893

Archival items Early C20 photographs held at the Local Studies Library, Manchester Central Reference Library.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION Philips Park Cemetery is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * It is a good example of a High Victorian municipal cemetery. * The cemetery is a good example of the work of the noted cemetery designer William Gay (1814-93). * The cemetery has structured designed to a high standard by the Manchester architects Paull and Aycliffe. * The cemetery retains a collection of funerary monuments which reflect the development of Manchester in the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. * The layout of the cemetery demonstrates with unusual clarity zoning for the use of specific religious or denominational groups, reflecting the religious state of England in the mid-19th century.

Description written: July 2001 Amended: August 2001 Register Inspector: HMT Edited: October 2002

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Online. 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:
Parks and Gardens


War Memorials Online, accessed 11 July 2017 from
War Memorials Online, accessed 11 July 2017 from
War Memorials Online, accessed 11 July 2017 from


This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.

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