Reception House, Hammersmith Cemetery


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
NGR: TQ2397078245
Statutory Address:
Margravine Gardens, Hammersmith, London, W6 8RL


Ordnance survey map of Reception House, Hammersmith Cemetery
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Statutory Address:
Margravine Gardens, Hammersmith, London, W6 8RL

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

Location Description:
NGR: TQ2397078245
Greater London Authority
Hammersmith and Fulham (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Reception House. Circa 1869, probably by George Saunders (1829/30 - 1907) for the Hammersmith Burial Board.

Reasons for Designation

The reception house at Hammersmith Cemetery, dating from circa 1869 and probably by the designer of the cemetery George Saunders, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Rarity: as a rare survival of a short-lived type of cemetery building; * Architectural interest: for its unusual octagonal plan and roof, complimenting the other Gothic Revival buildings of the cemetery; * Historic interest: for adding to our understanding of Victorian funeral practices and public health improvements; * Survival: the building survives particularly well.


Hammersmith Cemetery was founded in 1869 by the Hammersmith Burial Board to designs by the local architect, George Saunders (1829/30 - 1907) of 15 Hammersmith Terrace. Saunders designed two Gothic style lodges and two mortuary chapels, one Anglican (demolished in 1953) and one Nonconformist. It seems likely that he also designed the reception house at the same time, although its exact date is currently uncertain. The cemetery became a Garden of Rest in 1951 and is generally known as the Margravine Cemetery.

Reception houses, also known as receiving houses, were introduced as a result of concerns around the implications for public health of C19 burial practices. These were highlighted in 1842 in the ‘Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain’ by the Secretary of the Poor Law Commission, Edwin Chadwick (1800-1890). This was followed in 1843 by ‘A supplementary Report on the Results of a Special Inquiry into the Practice of Interment in Towns’. The report indicated that, due to problems raising money to pay for a funeral, it was often the case that bodies of the poor were stored in their homes, often a single room, for long periods after death. Since at that time undertakers did not provide facilities to store coffins, Chadwick advocated the creation in public cemeteries of ‘Reception Houses for the Dead’ where coffins could be stored away from the home prior to burial.


Reception House. Circa 1869, probably by George Saunders (1829/30 - 1907) for the Hammersmith Burial Board.

MATERIALS: brown stock brick with red brick and Bath stone dressings. Slate roof.

PLAN: single-storey and octagonal in plan.

EXTERIOR: located in the north-east sector of the cemetery, the building sits on a brick plinth with a stone coping. There is a stone stringcourse at cill level and cornice with red brick banding above the plinth and below the cornice. The entrance (in the east elevation) is reached via two stone steps. The original plank double doors with iron strap-hinges are set in a red brick pointed-arch with a stone hood-mould. There are four, high-set, lancet windows with red brick arches, stone cills and cast-iron lattice grilles, set at regular intervals around the building. There are two original, square-section, cast-iron downpipes. The steep-pitched octagonal slate roof has four dormers with wooden louvres and a decorative metal pinnacle.

INTERIOR: stone mortuary slabs on brick supports run round five of the walls. The floor has stone slabs sloping down to a central soakaway. The boarded timber roof structure has metal tie rods radiating from a metal boss. The brickwork is whitewashed.


Hammersmith and Fulham Historic Buildings Group Newsletter, Margravine Cemetery (No. 27, Autumn 2012), accessed 8 June 2016 from
Robert Stephenson, The Reception House at Margravine Cemetery (2016)
Sally Strachey Historic Conservation, Condition Report: the Reception House, Hammersmith Cemetery (March 2016)


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

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