David Lambert 2005

The Parks Agency, UK

A conservation management plan for the City of London Cemetery

Most cemeteries are historic. While only a tiny percentage of cemeteries are included on national lists of historic parks and gardens, the majority, being laid out before 1914, are historic in at least a local or regional context.  Furthermore, while no one knows the numbers, it is likely that listing of built structures under-represents the historic interest of cemetery structures as a type. But if we want to avoid heritage and its connotations, cemeteries are special places, and their specialness is intimately bound up with their history.  It is that specialness, and its preservation, that this paper will address. In some ways, cemeteries are part of what has been called the parks ‘family’ – important green space, publicly accessible, designed landscapes, ornamental structures – and recognising this can be helpful to some extent.  But it is essential that they are not treated as if they were ‘just’ parks – they have very different roles and very different needs. A cemetery is a complex asset with overlapping values: providing choice of burial, cultural and emotional, heritage, ecological, amenity, townscape. The threats are equally complex: demolitions, vandalism, pressure for burial space, reduced maintenance budgets, a backlog of capital works, conflicting user-demands, skills shortages, lack of political and public awareness. In working on the Conservation Management Plan for the City of London Cemetery, the team examined these issues in detail, and this paper will use the experience as a case study, illustrating the importance of such a plan, the problems it tackled and the solutions which, in liaison with the clients, it came up with.


The Cemetery Research Group runs two events a year: in May and in November. Follow the links and send in an abstract