The majority of cemeteries in England are owned by district, town and parish councils and London boroughs. It is difficult to be exact since the number of cemeteries in operation is not known. There is no statutory responsibility for any organisation to provide burial space, and no central data source or register.
A reasonable figure may be close to 4,000. The majority of larger towns and cities will contain at least one large ‘first generation’ cemetery, 20-50 acres (c8-20 hectares) in extent and opened between 1830 and 1880. This site may well have been extended at least once. Subsequent ‘second generation’ cemeteries may well be smaller.
However, in the majority of smaller town and in larger villages, a typical ‘first generation’ cemetery opened in the same period might be only 5-10 acres (2-4 hectares) in extent.
The Department for Constitutional Affairs (which became the Ministry of Justice) completed a survey of burial grounds in 2006. The survey covered England and Wales and received returns on over 9,747 burial sites. Of these, 70 per cent were churchyards. Returns were received for 2,907 cemeteries.
In 2011, an audit of burial provision was undertaken by CRG for the Greater London Authority, covering all London boroughs, and found that London contained 128 cemeteries.