Nonconformist Cemetery Chapel


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
London Road Cemetery, London Road, Coventry, CV1 2JT


Ordnance survey map of Nonconformist Cemetery Chapel
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Statutory Address:
London Road Cemetery, London Road, Coventry, CV1 2JT

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

Coventry (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Nonconformist cemetery chapel, 1847, by GH Stokes under the direction of Joseph Paxton.

Reasons for Designation

The Nonconformist Chapel at the London Road Cemetery is listed at Grade II*, for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* an accomplished neoclassical design of good construction with fine detailing, modelled on the form of a Greek temple.

Historic interest:

* designed by GH Stokes, an accomplished architect with a number of listed buildings to his name, under the direction of Joseph Paxton, one of the country’s leading mid-C19 architects and landscape designers; * a key part of Paxton’s scheme for a new municipal cemetery for Coventry, a rapidly-expanding urban centre.

Group value:

* with the stylistically-contrasting Gothic Anglican chapel to the north, the other listed cemetery structures, and as part of the Grade-I registered landscape.


Coventry’s rapid population growth in the early to mid-C19 overwhelmed its existing burial grounds, prompting a new site to be acquired for the purpose in 1844. The following year, Joseph Paxton (1803-1865), one of the finest landscape designers in the country, was commissioned to design and lay out the new facility. The site, former Lammas lands and a stone quarry on the edge of the city, provided a landscape of hillocks and hollows, and was surrounded by rows of mature elms. The cemetery became a popular retreat; by 1867 it was 'resorted to' by a large number of visitors, a contemporary account describing it as having 'more the air of a gentlemen's park than a city of the dead' (London Road Cemetery 1994). It is a Grade I registered landscape (National Heritage List for England entry 1001205).

Work began on the two chapels, one Anglican, the other for non-Conformist, in early 1847. Paxton was not trained as an architect, and though he certainly designed buildings he had qualified assistants to produce working drawings and oversee construction. It is probable that at the London Road Cemetery, the broad stylistic concepts of Gothic for the Anglican chapel, and classical for the Nonconformist chapel, came from the Paxton, and that the detailed designs were by George Henry Stokes (about 1827-1874).

Stokes was articled to George Gilbert Scott. He began working with Paxton in 1847, and married his eldest daughter in 1852. The pair continued working together until Paxton’s death in 1865, after which Stokes is believed to have ceased his practice. His obituary attributes to him a number of solo and collaborative building designs, many of which are listed.

The chapel has a history of misfortune. In 1852 the Cemetery committee minutes note lead was stolen from the roof; in March 1884 there is a report of a fire in one of the side wings, which was used to store tools and dynamite for blasting holes in the stony earth for graves. It was damaged during the Second World War, when Coventry was a target of aerial bombardment, and in 2006 a fire destroyed the internal timber dado panelling and the roof.


Nonconformist cemetery chapel, 1847, by GH Stokes under the direction of Joseph Paxton.

MATERIALS: limestone ashlar facing to sandstone masonry, with a slate roof.

PLAN: the chapel stands towards the southern end of the cemetery, on relatively level and open ground.

The main range is a roughly north-facing oblong, with wings projecting to the east and west. It resembles a classical temple, with an in antis plan.

EXTERIOR: the chapel takes the form of a classical temple. On the north front are two giant fluted ionic columns in antis, closely flanked by paired Tuscan antae. The entablature and pediment have dentil cornices. Set back in the plain wall behind the Ionic columns is a central doorway with a pair of double panelled doors, in a moulded architrave with a frieze and cornice above. Above the doorway is a blank tablet.

Single-storey wings, slightly recessed, project on either side. Each has three bays articulated by pilasters; the bay adjoining the chapel is blind, and the outer two are open, leading into enclosures intended to house mural tablets. Roofs, originally hidden behind the parapets, have been lost.

The return elevations have two bays separated by paired pilasters, and the south end, like the north, has a pediment and paired angle pilasters. There are flat-arched windows, now blocked, in eared architraves.

INTERIOR: following the early-C21 fire the chapel has an unfinished interior, having lost its dado panelling and plasterwork. The inner sandstone structure is exposed, showing brick linings to the openings, all but one of which have been temporarily blocked up. The roof has been completely replaced.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Chadwick, GF , The Works of Sir Joseph Paxton, (1961), 188
Colquhoun, Kate, A Thing in Disguise: The Visionary Life of Joseph Paxton, (2003), 142-147
Pevsner, N, Pickford, C, The Buildings of England: Warwickshire , (2016), 285
'The late George Henry Stokes, Architect' in Building News and Engineering Journal, (July 10 1874), 57
List entry (Park and Garden): LONDON ROAD CEMETERY, COVENTRY (National Heritage List for England ref 1001205), Historic England, accessed 02/10/2018 from
Nonconformist Chapel, London Road Cemetery, Coventry Historic Environment Record, ref MCT109, accessed 02/10/2018 from
'The London Road Cemetery, Coventry', Vickers, P, City of Coventry Development Directorate, 1996


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 23 Jul 2001
Reference: IOE01/04002/10
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr John Barlow. Source Historic England Archive
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