History of Fulham Cemetery

This page contains extracts from written histories describing Fulham Cemetery, with links to web pages, books, and maps for further research.

Extracts included below

Description of the cemetery from London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer

Hugh Meller & Brian Parsons, 2023 • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

The cemetery occupies a neat rectangle of land with an extra tongue that extends to Munster Road added in 1874, and a further addition in 1880. It was designed by John Hall (while a pupil with A. William Blomfield), including the lodge, date 1865, and the chapels, both in Gothic style. The surviving chapel is distinguished by a hefty bellcote over the west end and a scene of the Resurrection carved in the tympanum. There was also a Dissenter’s chapel, but this has been demolished, as has the mortuary designed by R. Cox in 1880. More recently the lodge has been sold and substantially renovated and now includes a basement and new external walling.

The cemetery was consecrated on 3 August 1865 and the first interment later in the day was of a child. Unusually for the 1860s, the thirteenth interment was that of a centenarian from the Fulham Union Workhouse.

The best tombs are to the north of the surviving chapel, but none are very special and all are threatened. A night attack in the 1980s by vandals caused the decapitation of about thirty tombs, and the council is now pursuing a policy of grassing over all graves older than fifty years. This has allowed for easy maintenance, which is of a comparatively high standard, and reopened space for a ‘garden of rest’, but it has destroyed all traces of the traditional nineteenth-century cemetery. A more sympathetic and selective policy is required before modest reminders of Fulham’s past, such as the tomb ‘erected by intimitate friends in memory of the sad death of James Croft who was killed on the District Railway on October 2nd 1890’, are lost. It is regrettable that a further spate of vandalism took place in 2014.

Detail of an old map

The Ordnance Survey map of London in 1865 shows Fulham Cemetery in its original size before the extensions of 1874 and 1880, with both Episcopal and Dissenters' chapels.

Old maps 👉

Detail of an old map

The Ordnance Survey map of London in 1897 shows the extension to Munster Road (1874) with a lodge by the gate and two mortuaries, as well as the southward extension (1880).

The tympanum above the doorway of the chapel with a carving of the Resurrection

The surviving chapel has a fine carving of a scene of the Resurrection carved in the tympanum above the doorway. (Photo)

Buildings 👉

The brick wall with a cross motif, overgrown with ivy, and a memorial cross in the foreground

The walls along the avenue to Munster Road are an original feature. They are in poor repair and the council is planning renovations once funding is secured.

London Parks & Gardens: Protecting our Green Capital

The London Parks & Gardens Trust (LPGT) is an independent charitable trust established in 1994. Its aims are to increase knowledge and appreciation of historic parks and gardens in London and it seeks to conserve London’s green spaces for the education and enjoyment of the public. 

Description of the cemetery from London Parks & Gardens

London Parks & Gardens Trust: Fulham Cemetery

Fulham Cemetery, now generally known as Fulham Palace Road Cemetery, was established by Fulham Burial Board in 1865 and is the oldest of the parish's cemeteries. It was designed by architect John Hall with an entrance lodge and two chapels, and laid out with a grid of walks. The burial ground was extended in 1874 and 1880 but by 1908 it was becoming full and North Sheen Cemetery was opened to cater for the parish needs, although Fulham Old Cemetery is now still open for burial.

The cemetery is bounded by stone walls, piers and railings along the main road and within the grounds the grid of walks is lined with small trees and lime trees along the boundary with Fulham Palace Road. The main avenue from the entrance on Fulham Palace Road runs to Munster Road, which was laid out when the cemetery was extended in 1874. The older part of the cemetery is the northern section between the chapel and boundary with Lillie Road Recreation Ground (q.v.). The cemetery was extended again in 1880 when a mortuary was built, but by 1908 it was becoming crowded and Fulham New Cemetery, now known as North Sheen Cemetery (q.v.), was established as overspill. The old cemetery was subsequently referred to as Fulham Old Cemetery.

Much of the Fulham area was cultivated up until the mid C19th, with orchards, market gardens and nurseries providing the main source of income. It remained largely rural until the arrival of the railway in the 1880s brought rapid housing development although the last farm, Crabtree Farm, was in use until 1910. Land that was previously a nursery was purchased by Fulham Burial Board to establish its cemetery here in 1865. Fulham Cemetery was laid out by architect John Hall who designed the cemetery lodge at the entrance and two Gothic-style chapels, one of which was a Dissenters chapel that has since been demolished. The remaining C of E chapel has a fine tympanum over the entrance showing Christ, two angels and three sleeping crusaders, and an attractive bellcote at the west end. The lodge, which was the residence of the cemetery superintendent, has the Bishopric of London Arms of crossed swords and a mitre on the exterior wall at first floor level. John Hall was a pupil of the renowned architect Arthur William Blomfield, later Sir Arthur Blomfield, himself the son of Bishop of London, Charles James Blomfield.

Among those buried in Fulham Cemetery were numerous local dignitaries, including members of the Flew and Crowther families; Jane and Frederick Wright, married for 48 years and who died within an hour of each other in 1881, who have a fine table tomb; Lieutenant General Sir Burke Cuppage (d.1877) who was Governor of Jersey in the 1860s; comic actor William Blakeley (d.1897) and Emily Sulivan and Robert, Earl of Carnwath (d.1910). A section of land was provided for WWII burials, near the Cross of Sacrifice that now commemorates the dead of both world wars, which was erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Designed for the Imperial War Graves Commission in 1919 by Sir Reginald Blomfield, son of Sir Arthur, it takes the form of a Portland stone cross with bronze crusader sword pointing downwards; it is found in literally thousands of cemeteries and churchyards across the country and also in France.

Like Margravine Road Cemetery (q.v.), Fulham Palace Road Cemetery is subject to Hammersmith & Fulham Council policy of grassing over graves older than 50 years, producing a somewhat bland effect but pursued as a means of countering vandalism suffered in the cemeteries. Burial records for Fulham's cemeteries are available at Fulham Town Hall.

Sources consulted

The Principal Entrance, Fulham Cemetery. From a photograph by Mr. J. Dugdale, 1897

(Above) Church of England Chapel, Mr. H. Ambridge.

(Right) A corner in Fulham Cemetery. Mr. J. Dugdale, 1897

The Principal Avenue, Fulham Cemetery. From a photograph by Mr. J. Dugdale. 1900

Description of the cemetery from Fulham Old & New

Charles James Fèret, 1900 • Vol. iii pp. 40–41 • Read online at the Wellcome Collection

The Cemetery, as it now exists, covers an area of 12a 3r 30p. [Acres, roods, and perches] The original portion, opened in 1865, consisted of 5a 1r 35p: this was the part nearest to the Recreation Ground. The first addition to the Cemetery was made in 1874, when the present entrance in Munster Road was formed and the ground enlarged about 3 roods. In 1880 the Burial Board made a further enlargement, 6a 1r 35p of new ground being added. The total cost of the whole site was about £13,600.

Adjoining the Fulham Recreation Ground, and lying between the Fulham Palace Road and Munster Road, is the Fulham Cemetery. It was opened on 3 August 1865, the site having just previously been consecrated by Dr. Tait the Bishop of London.

About two-thirds of Fulham Cemetery consists of consecrated and one-third of unconsecrated ground. It is estimated that the former will hold 39,000 bodies and the latter 24,000 bodies.

The first interment was that of Susan Smith, an infant, who was buried on the opening day. The thirteenth burial was that of a centenarian, Anne Salter, from Fulham Union Workhouse. Only some six persons, reputed to have reached five score years, are buried here. With the growth of Fulham the number of interments per year has steadily increased. In 1867 there were 271 burials. The annual average is now about 1,800. Since the opening of the Cemetery, down to 25 March 1899, now less than 33,894 burials have taken place.

The principal avenue, which is prettily overarched with trees through a portion of its course, runs from the entrance in Fulham Palace Road to the Munster Road. At right angles to this, minor paths lead to other parts of the Cemetery. Just to the right of the main entrance in Fulham Palace Road is the residence of the Superintendent. A little way beyond, on the same side, is a Dissenter’s Chapel, while, opposite the Superintendent’s lodge, is the Church of England Chapel. Behind the last-named Chapel are several handsome memorials, including the tomb of the Wrights of Eridge House, Sir Burke Cuppage, K.C.B., and Lady Carnwath.

The present mortuary was built in 1880. 

Vol. ii p. 179

There is not much to be said about the history of Munster Lane. Until very recent days it was a rural way with very few houses along it. 

Its northern end joins the Crown Road at what is now styled “Fulham Cross.” Opposite Bedford Place is the eastern entrance to Fulham Cemetery, to the right of which is the Parish Mortuary, erected on a site offered to the Fulham Vestry by the Burial Board. It was built by Mr. R. Cox in 1888-9.