12 October 2012

Burial Grounds and Cemeteries are 'Heritage at Risk' challenge for London

English Heritage has launched the Heritage at Risk Register 2012. It reveals that 524 of London's listed buildings, 35 scheduled monuments, 12 registered parks and gardens, and 65 conservation areas are at risk. Despite economic difficulties, the percentage of Grade I and II* buildings at risk in London continues to reduce slightly, down to 3.8% from 4.2% last year.

Just one of London's many tombs that are at risk.

Just one of London's many tombs that are at risk.

Some 59 entries have been removed in the last year from the Register in London because their futures have been secured. However 126 have been added. This figure includes over 70 individual monuments at risk within cemeteries, which were previously grouped together per burial ground.

The primary heritage challenge for London in the future will be to protect and preserve its historic burial grounds and cemeteries.

Dr Nigel Barker, English Heritage's Head of Partnerships for London, said: "Some 61 tombs were added to the Register this year in addition to six mausoleums, six monuments, a mortuary and a family burial vault. The challenge for all of us is to find new ways of looking after these important monuments and memorials to the people of London's past.

"London cemeteries contain the graves of some of the world's most historic figures and it is vital we don't allow them to fall into decay and ruin. We've conducted a survey of 19 burial grounds over the last year, assessing tombs ranging from medieval London to the present day in order to realise how we can tackle some of the maintenance problems they are facing."

Kensal Green (All Souls) Cemetery in North Kensington, one of London's 'Magnificent Seven' Victorian cemeteries and one of the world's first garden burial grounds, remains a high Heritage at Risk priority for English Heritage. This Grade II* listed cemetery received its first funeral in January 1833, and still conducts burials and cremations daily.  It contains some 135 listed structures including an Anglican Chapel. English Heritage is working in partnership with the General Cemetery Company and the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery to reduce the risk to it.

The second largest category of new entries on the Register this year is buildings. Approximately 30 examples in both private and public ownership have had to be added because of their neglected condition, many of which could once again provide good homes at a time when they are desperately needed.

Dr Nigel Barker added: "Despite the difficult economic context, we believe that a combination of perseverance, determination and creative partnership will allow us to increase the number of rescues and limit the loss of London's history."

The new Heritage at Risk Register for 2012 is published online today.

Ten of the most important historic buildings and sites in London on the Heritage at Risk Register are:

  • Abney Park Cemetery, Hackney
  • Crossways, 134 Church Road, Hanwell, Ealing
  • Finsbury Health Centre, Pine Street, Islington
  • Gunnersbury Park (including the west and east stables, the large and small mansions and other structures), Hounslow
  • Hanwell flight of locks and brick boundary wall of St Bernard's Hospital, Ealing
  • Kensal Green (All Souls) Cemetery (including the Anglican Chapel, a number of monuments and other structures), Kensington and Chelsea
  • Manor Farm barn, High Street, Harmondsworth, Hillingdon
  • Tide Mill (known as the House Mill), Three Mill Lane, Newham
  • Whitechapel High Street and Stepney Green Conservation Areas (High Street 2012), Tower Hamlets
  • 94 Piccadilly, Westminster.

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