London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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London County Council 1900

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]

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to be made of the area available for interment. The reason for this is that, in most cases,
only a general knowledge appears to be in the possession of those who are concerned with the
different cemeteries, no recent surveys having been made and no systematic record apparently
being generally kept with the object of knowing the area of the ground which has actually
been used. Ordinary inspection of a burial place does not enable any one to give an opinion of
much weight as to the extent to which the ground is occupied, if the judgment is to be made
upon the standard of the area of grave spaces which was approved at the time the cemetery was
opened. An attempt to form such an opinion would easily lead to error, since at some cemeteries
it has been the custom to use the ground either by burying in alternate grave spaces, or in no
systematic manner, with the result that headstones and monuments being as a consequence
erected over the cemetery generally the ground has the appearance of being entirely used up,
although really there may be intervening spaces which are still unused. The amounts of unused
ground given in the following statement were obtained during the inquiry from officials connected
with each cemetery, and may be regarded as approximating to the actual amounts sufficiently
accurately to enable an idea to be formed as to the area of ground which is still available for
burial. It is desirable to emphasise the fact that this does not include the space occupied by
private graves which have already been buried in, but which are still available for further burial
for the use of those who own them.
(15.) Under the present mode of use the availability of existing places for interment depends
partly upon the accommodation which is still left in graves (either earth graves, brick graves, or
family vaults) in regard to which the exclusive right of burial for a certain number of bodies
has been purchased at some previous date, and which have not yet been filled, and partly upon
the amount of ground which, so far, has not been buried in at all. As regard? the former,
it has not been possible to obtain information showing to what extent there
is still accommodation for further burial in these private graves. It could doubtless be
obtained by a careful examination of the register of the burial place since its opening, and by
noting all the private graves not yet filled, and the number of bodies which can still be buried
in them. It is doubtful, however, to what extent, if at all, this accommodation could be taken
into account in forming an estimate as to the availability of the existing provision, since the use
of such graves, being limited to members of those families by whom they were originally purchased,
it is possible that owing to the family having become dispersed, or having left the neighbourhood,
the graves may never be completely filled, or the time taken in filling them may be
spread over an indefinite period lasting perhaps beyond the actual life of the burial ground or
cemetery. This information as regards private graves not being forthcoming, estimate as to the
availability of the ground now in use for the disposal of the dead is restricted to the area of ground
which has not yet been buried in.

(16.) The information which it has been possible to obtain as to the extent of such ground is as follows—

Cemetery.Total area.Area not yet buried in. (Estimated by officers of burial boards and cemeteries.)
i. Cemeteries with clay soil. [London clay.]
Within the County—Acres.Acres.
Abney-park (some gravel)3310
S. Mary's Roman Catholic2310
Kensal -green7020
Jewish, Islington270 spaces. These have already been purchased.
Lambeth (a small amount of river gravel)41½10
Putney (new)1312
Greenwich16No information.
Outside the county—
Jewish, Hendon8only 27 bodies buried so far
„ Willesden96
Willesden, Old26½20
„ Neweighty spaces
Total652½acresabout 392 acres (and 150 spaces and unknown area in Greenwich cemetery )