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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): CLA/052

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1852-2000

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 11.2 linear metres

Name of creator(s): Corporation of London


Administrative/Biographical history:

By the mid 19th century churchyards within the City were becoming overcrowded, unsanitary and unfit to be used for further burials. Under the terms of the Metropolitan Burials Act of 1852, the Commissioners of Sewers were appointed the Burial Board for parishes in the City and its liberties. On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, the Board ruled that interments should cease within the City. To answer the problem of burials for the City of London, the Corporation purchased 90 acres of farm land at Little Ilford in 1854. The farm was demolished and a large fishpond drained (this now forms the site of the Catacomb Valley). The cemetery was designed by Colonel William Haywood as Engineer and Surveyor to the Commissioners of Sewers of the City of London and landscaped by Robert Davidson. The first burial at the City of London Cemetery took place in June 1856, however, the ground was not consecrated until November 1857.

A crematorium was opened in October 1904 and the first cremation took place in March 1905. It was the second crematorium in London and was designed by D J Ross, Engineer to Commissioners of Sewers and later City Engineer, 1894-1905. A new crematorium was built in 1971. In 1937 a garden of rest was constructed followed by a series of memorial gardens. There were also plans to build a railway siding and special station linked to Eastern Counties Railway but these came to nothing. The cemetery contains reinterments from demolished City churches.

The Commissioners of Sewers managed the cemetery from the date the site was purchased in 1854 until their abolition in 1898. After this it was directly managed by the Corporation. The Sanitary Committee, renamed the Public Health Committee, replaced the Public Committee in 1957 and is now the Port and City of London Health and Social Services Committee.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium, 1852-2000. Mainly administrative records including the Registers of Private (Purchased) Graves 1856-1949 (each volume is indexed). Some people purchased graves as they were needed, and in these cases, the date of burial corresponds fairly closely with the date of purchase of the grave. However, other people purchased a grave decades before they died, so the date of burial is not always enough to enable the registers to be searched. It is often useful to refer to the burial registers first (still held by the Cemetery), to obtain the grave number and grant number, which can then be used to locate the relevant Register of Private (Purchased) Graves in CLRO. These registers record who purchased each grave and when, who was interred in it (name, age and date of burial, for each person buried in that particular grave), and the numbers of the grave, grave grant, square, plot and register entry.

Also Cremation Registers from the date of the first cremation to 1943 (later registers remain at the Cemetery); registers of niches and of grants of niches in the Columbarium, 1930-1948; registers of monuments, 1870-1948, arranged in grave number order, and giving the name of the purchaser of the grave, together with very brief details of memorial stones; financial records relating to the cemetery, cremation and minister's fees, 1856-1997; inventory of the plant, fixtures, fittings, office furniture, stores and vehicles at the cemetery, 1960; cemetery ledgers, 1856-1931; general administrative reports relating to the establishment of the cemetery, 1853-1873 and crematorium 1899-1905; histories, leaflets, guides with tables of charges 1858-1936; photographs of the cemetery from [1929] to 1997 showing the grounds, monuments and the interior of chapels and an extensive series of plans including the site at Little Ilford 1853-1856; contract plans for the cemetery, catacombs and chapels 1854-1876; later plans of extensions to the cemetery and alterations to the chapel; crematorium 1903-1905 and new crematorium, 1967 and lodges, houses, mausoleums, memorial and memorial gardens. A portfolio of Haywood's earliest designs and ideas for cemetery buildings, mostly undated but believed to be 1853 to 1854 is also available.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

In sections according to catalogue.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London.

Physical characteristics:


Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Corporation of London Records Office.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

For further references to the City of London Cemetery, see CLA/006 Commissioners of Sewers, COL/CC/PBC Public Health Committee, CLA/048 City of London Police (photographs of the funerals of police officers at the cemetery), COL/AD Administration and COL/PL, COL/PLD/PL and COL/SVD/PL for plans of the cemetery and related buildings. The COL series also includes papers on Bunhill Fields Burial Ground.

The original burial registers 1856 to date remain at the City of London Cemetery (write to the Superintendent and Registrar at the City of London Cemetery, Aldersbrook Road, Manor Park, London E12 5DQ), but there are microfilms of transcripts of them covering 1856 - 1915 at the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library. The burial registers are not indexed.

Publication note:



Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: February 2009

Administrative history | Administration | Organisation and management
Architectural plans | Plans | Visual materials
Burial records | Documents | Information sources
Graves | Land use

Personal names
Haywood | William | 1821-1894 | civil engineer and architect

Corporate names
City of London Cemetery and Crematorium | Corporation of London
Commissioners of Sewers | Corporation of London x Public Health Department
Court of Commissioners of Sewers | Corporation of London x Public Health Department

City of London | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Ilford | Essex | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe