Sunday, 12 May 2013

Jungle Necropolis

I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon with my friend Esther. We explored one of London's hidden treasures, a Victorian cemetery and one of the Magnificent Seven.

Nunhead Cemetery is located in the Nunhead area of southern London and was originally known as All Saints' Cemetery. The cemetery was consecrated in 1840 and opened by the London Necropolis Company.  The first grave was dug in October 1840 with the burial of a 101 year old Ipswich grocer named Charles Abbott. By the middle of the 20th century the cemetery was nearly full, and so was abandoned. With the ensuing neglect, the cemetery gradually changed from lawn to meadow and eventually to woodland. It is now listed as a Local Nature Reserve.

Nunhead Cemetery circa 1855

Nunhead Cemetery was reopened in May 2001 after an extensive restoration project funded by Southwark Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Fifty memorials were restored along with the Anglican Chapel, designed by Thomas Little. The Victorian part of the cemetery is currently in a poor state of repair, being best described as an elegant wilderness. Large parts of the cemetery are overgrown with vines, trees and shrubs. Nunhead cemetery occupies about 52 acres.

I found the walk around the cemetery relaxing and peaceful, and at times it got me thinking about my own mortality and the pros and cons between having a traditional burial or cremation. The time spent exploring the cemetery was an enjoyable one and I will definitely be visiting again.


The main gate (the North Gate) is located on Linden Grove and the South Gate is located on Limesford Road. The cemetery is in the London Borough of Southwark, SE15.

Click here to view more Nunhead Cemetery photos.


  1. Interesting history and love the pics

  2. For those who already love walking through cemeteries, this one is not to be missed! Specifically, search out the Victorian-era section which is overgrown with ivy, shrubs and trees, with the most fascinating monuments/gravestones/crosses, etc. poking through the tangle--be sure to bring your camera! I didn't want to leave!

  3. I am not usually one for cemeteries, but from the looks of Nunhead, I think that I would find myself enjoying the walk through. I have always enjoyed looking at Victorian architecture, so being able to see the restored chapel and some of the tomb stones would mark quite an adventure for myself (especially since it is on 52 acres!).

    I think that even though most of the cemetery is overgrown with ivy, shrubs and trees, this atmosphere (the overgrown-ness) is probably what brings the sense of peace whilst one discovers the hidden gravestones and monuments.

  4. Your title "Jungle Necropolis" sounds like a perfect fit for this historical southern London landmark. The word Necropolis is not a word that gets used everyday and as such not so many people know about it. Except of course those people that have interest in zombies and the undead.

    The Nunhead cemetery looks like a place to explore for a glimpse of history and practices of yore. I am impressed by the pictures.