Clayhall Royal Naval Cemetery


Heritage Category: Park and Garden

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1435448

Date first listed: 26-May-2016

Location Description: Clayhall Royal Naval Cemetery, Clayhall Road, Gosport, Hampshire


Ordnance survey map of Clayhall Royal Naval Cemetery
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Location Description: Clayhall Royal Naval Cemetery, Clayhall Road, Gosport, Hampshire

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

County: Hampshire

District: Gosport (District Authority)

Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Grid Reference: SZ6098298612


Cemetery to the Royal Naval Hospital, Haslar, opened in 1859.

Reasons for Designation

Clayhall Royal Naval Cemetery, 1859, is registered at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: for its place in the development of Haslar as the earliest facility for the health and welfare of naval personnel, and within the wider landscape of Gosport and Portsmouth, one of the most significant sites in English naval history; * Landscape design interest: a restrained design focussing attention on the grave markers and memorials; * Funerary monuments: a varied collection of individual graves and groups of uniform headstones, including an unusual group with bronze plaques, and a rare enclosed Turkish burial ground; * Group value: with the listed cemetery chapel and commemorative monuments, and with the numerous highly-graded listed naval structures in the wider vicinity.


The Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery, also known as the Clayhall Cemetery, opened in 1859 to provide a new site for burials of patients from the Royal Naval Hospital. Although the need for a burial ground must have been foreseen, no provision was made when the hospital opened in the mid-C18 and burials were made indiscriminately on unconsecrated ground to the south-west of the hospital. Burials included not just patients from the hospital, estimated at approaching 1,000 a year in the late-C18, but also those brought ashore from ships, as well as other military personnel. Such burials continued until 1820, when a newly appointed superintendent reformed the system and a formal cemetery was laid out in the hospital grounds. This burial ground was used from 1826 until 1859, when the demand for space led to the purchase of additional land on a detached site further west, for the laying out of a new cemetery, as here described.


LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING The cemetery lies 300m west of the grounds to the Haslar Royal Naval Hospital and is a flat, irregularly shaped enclosure of c5.3 hectares. It is bounded by a hawthorn hedge on the edge of Stoke Lake to the north, by an inlet from the lake to the east, walls to the south and by C20 housing to the west.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES The principal approach to the cemetery is from the east along Clayhall Road, which bounds the southern side of the site. On this side the cemetery has a brick wall, approximately 1.5m high, with regular buttresses and brick copings. The walls curve inwards to create a wide entranceway with substantial brick gate piers with stone dressings and caps, and iron gates. There is a pedestrian entrance at the western end of the wall, adjacent to the cottage which originally formed a sexton’s lodge.

PRINCIPAL BUILDING A chapel of rest, 1859, listed at Grade II (NHLE 1427736), stands directly north of the main entrance. It is a compact, gothic building in red and blue brick, with a heavily-moulded Norman-style arched doorway on the southern side, facing the cemetery entrance. LANDSCAPED GROUNDS The cemetery has a series of straight, tree-lined paths aligned roughly north-south and east-west, dividing the site into a series of quadrangles; all are laid to grass. Most of these are open, with individual burial plots, typically with military or naval headstones of varying styles laid out in rows, varying in orientation in different sections of the cemetery.

The different sections of the cemetery group the headstones related to certain campaigns, and the eastern section contains c1,400 Commonwealth War Grave Commission memorials to lives lost in the First and Second World Wars. There is a large group of late-C19 graves with uniform headstones to the north-west of the chapel, including a group of unusual cruciform headstones with bronze plaques dating from the early C20. The south-eastern quadrangles contain individual monuments from the mid-C19 onwards.

In the north-west section of the cemetery there is an enclosure for the burial of Turkish sailors; it has low brick walls surmounted by iron railings, with an access gate on its southern side. In c1900 the remains of 26 sailors who died from cholera whilst anchored off the Hardway, Gosport in 1850 were re-interred at Clayhall Cemetery having been moved from their original graves in the hospital grounds. There is a sign on the overthrow of the gate stating ‘TÜRK DENIZ SEHITLIGI / TURKISH NAVAL CEMETERY / 1850’, which may have been moved from the hospital grounds.

There are a number of large monuments dedicated to various conflicts and tragedies: that to HMS Eurydice is listed at Grade II* (NHLE ref 1428092) and commemorates the worst naval disaster in peacetime, when a sail training vessel foundered off the Isle of Wight in 1878 with the loss of 317 lives. Its memorial has the original ship’s anchor set into the top of a moulded rock formation. The perils of submariners are recorded in two obelisks and a screen memorial (NHLE refs 1428094, 1428138 and 1428144), and there is an obelisk commemorating the campaign of the HMS Boadicea in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 (NHLE ref 1428142); all are listed at Grade II. To the west of the main entrance is the Cross of Sacrifice, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfeld, erected in 1926.

Behind a Cross of Sacrifice is a rectangular pit with evenly sloping sides, rumoured to relate to an early brick works or gravel extraction for the paths.

The cemetery has a number of mature trees, particularly to the east of the site. Within the Turkish Burial Ground topiary yews are maintained.


Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery, accessed 24/11/2015 from
Gosport Heritage Open Days, The Royal Naval Cemetery, Clayhall Road, accessed 24/11/2015 from
Haslar Heritage Group, Clayhall Cemetery, accessed 24/11/2015 from
Parks and Gardens UK, Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery, Gosport, England, accessed 24/11/2015 from

End of official listing