Dead Good Mates. 19th June

Mytchett Visitor Centre

Ascot ready

A couple of people had told us how we must visit Brookwood Cemetery whilst we were in the area, with a couple of days to wait for our lock passage we decided to head there today. A walk over the canal to catch the no3 bus to Ash Vale Station and then the train to Brookwood. The train journey was much longer than I thought it would be, but then the bus had taken us further away before we’d started.

The gate

The station has an entrance into the cemetery, but just where was it. Station staff asked if they could help and we were told to go down the stairs to the barriers and ask a member of staff there, they would let us out. We did this and the chap pointed towards a gate through a subway, when we got there he’d buzz us through.

Brookwood Cemetery was conceived by the London Necropolis Company in 1849 to house London’s deceased when the capital was finding it hard to accommodate both living and the dead. In 1854 it was said to be the largest cemetery in the world, it is now the largest in Western Europe. It was consecrated on 7th November 1854 and opened to the public six days later when the first burials took place.

The military cemetery

Next to Waterloo Station in London a dedicated station was built giving access to the cemetery. Trains with passenger carriages reserved for the different classes and Hearse carriages arrived at the cemetery on it’s dedicated branch line. The original London Necropolis Station was relocated in 1902, but this was demolished after being bombed in WW2.

There were two stations in the cemetery, one serving the none-conformist side (North) and the other the Anglican side (south). Apparently the southern platform still exists in the ownership of the St Edward Brotherhood. Wakes would be catered for at the stations.

I really hope his tomb contains him and not Hops and Malt

The first grave we came across was immediately of interest. Gates and a wall surrounded the memorial of Ramadan Guney (1932-2006). Originally from Cyprus, he emigrated to Britain in 1958 where he set up a music business. In 1983 he purchased the burial rights for over 19 acres of Brookwood Cemetery, he subsequently acquired Brookwood Cemetery in 1985 from it’s owner Mr DJT Dally. His aim was to restore the cemetery back to it’s original park like setting. More can be read about him here. An interesting sack covers part of his memorial.

Facing Mecca

We walked around the north west boundary, colourful and interesting graves none very old. Many sat skew wiff in their allocated plots, presumably facing Mecca.

Through a gate in a high fence, cordoning off the military graves, fencing keeping the dead in. Here Commonwealth graves all chalky white line up, immaculate grass between them. Next the graves of the Americans, crosses standing still, bright green grass, stars and stripes fluttering from a high flag pole, eagle above the door to the chapel where those who’s bodies were never found are remembered. All had died either in the UK or the surrounding waters. 69% of American bodies were repatriated at the request of their families.

More lines of graves, 1st and 2nd World Wars. Some dates from after the wars, presumably died from injuries. The wonderful cottage garden plants around the graves wonderfully kept. We walked up to take a look at the lines of Chelsea Pensioners, the majority passing away in the 1960’s.

No upvc windows here

Lunchtime, but where could we get some food? None of the residents would require refreshments. We should have thought about this! We walked down The Gardens, a line of semi detached houses built in 1897. Were these built for gardeners in the cemetery? If there hadn’t been several vans parked outside and workmen in modern clothing I’d have thought we’d been whizzed back in time.


Behind The Cricketers we found the Yurt Café where we enjoyed a slice of Lemon Drizzle cake and a lovely cuppa, far cheaper than a posh pub lunch! Now it was time to find our way back into the cemetery, after all we’d not even started to look round! No pavement along the road that splits the cemetery into it’s two halves, I was relived to arrive at the entrance.

Now with a vague plan on who we wanted to see and a route to maybe follow we walked on down Avenues. A real mixture of graves.

Why was Private CE Wilburn (from Gosport) in a corner with no-one near, his commonwealth grave stone much akin to those we’d seen this morning.

Elephant trunks of trees

Large boughs of trees surrounded the grave of the Peyers family, Adrian Christopher had been a tenor opera singer, appearing in several productions with Opera Scotland and at the Royal Opera House.

Penny Privett who’d died in 2022 sat amongst some Victorian graves, the lay out far more haphazard than in the northern cemetery. Huge large trees give the dead shade on a sunny day, a deer appreciated it too.

It took a while for it to spot us

Mausoleums were dotted around. The family Wood perfectly positioned for a film shot. The metal door partially open behind a gate, a slab of stone missing from the roof, no coffins to be seen inside, all so atmospheric.

A Hammer House setting maybe

Nearby John Singer Sargent (1856 -1925) rests, best remembered for his Victorian and Edwardian society portraits. His grave is Grade II listed even if it is far less elaborate than many others in the inner ring, the most expensive place to be laid to rest in the cemetery.

John Singer Sergant

Heading towards St Edwards where monks will show you round, sadly the church doors were locked and we didn’t have enough time for a tour so we didn’t knock on their door.

Some of the graves are now surrounded by trees, framing them so wonderfully. Were they planted with this in mind in decades to come? One family upstages itself, a simple knot on one gravestone, 6ft in front a huge angle spreads their wings.

This is the side I’d rather be laid to rest. The thought of having so many dead mates around you for company, the long grass and shade from the tall tall trees. Such a mixture of ages and eras. You could come to visit everyday of the year and see something different.

We crossed over the busy road again to the north cemetery. Different nationalities remembering their loved ones in different ways. One lady had so many fake and real flowers around her grave it was hard to see who she was. A sultan in his own plot had become overgrown with thistles, we’d not seen thistles anywhere else!

We headed back to the gate into the station. Pressed the bell to be let back in.

I do like an atmospheric graveyard, but what a place! We’d only really scratched the surface.

Large and small headstones

We came away wondering who was the first to be buried there. On 13th November 1854 the following burials were recorded. Mrs Hore’s two still born male twins from 74 Ewer Street, Borough. Elizabeth Costello aged 3 months from St Saviours Workhouse. Henry Smith aged 31 from St Saviours Workhouse. Charlotte Edwards aged 74 from Chelsea. An interesting article can be found here. I wonder how many people lie there now.

Some shore leave when we got back

Thank you Heather and Mick for suggesting we visited and John for telling us about the railway.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 2 trains, 1 gate, 5 miles walked, 1 dodgy knee, 56745645634789 graves maybe! 2 slices of cake, 2 pots of tea, 1 hour of accompanied shore leave, that’s a touch better!

5 thoughts on “Dead Good Mates. 19th June

  1. SAM

    Mornin’ Pip, Mick and Tilly.
    Brookwood Cemetery is the background to ‘The Necropolis Railway’ the first of a series of railway based novels by Andrew Martin. They are good reads and I can recommend them.
    And as for Malt and Hops? The names of the two lovely pubs cats in the Wellington in Brum.
    NB ‘Red Wharf’
    (Freshly repainted. Thanks for the nice comment)

  2. Mick Gemson

    So glad you had a sunny day to enjoy it.
    The lovely house on The Gardens was built by Lord Pibright for estate workers.
    Called there often on my post round in my student days. Doesn’t his lordship get a mention in The Importance of Being Ernest? Need to check that.
    All the best

  3. Mick

    Claude Cattermole “Catsmeat” Potter-Pirbright is a recurring fictional character in the Jeeves and Drones Club stories of English comic writer P. G. Wodehouse, being a longtime school friend of Jeeves’s master Bertie Wooster and a member of the Drones Club. A West End actor known as “Claude Cattermole” on stage, he is known to his friends by the nickname “Catsmeat”.

    Well – there you have it!

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