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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depth than that required for any grave. Originally the level of the subsoil water was reached at
a depth of 9 to 11 feet, but now it is not reached till 17 feet, this probably being due to the construction
of sewers in the neighbourhood owing to the erection of houses. The cemetery is not
deep drained.
The total area of the cemetery is 14 acres. Of this about 2 acres only are virgin ground.
But a large extent of the ground has in the past been used for common graves, in each of which
one body only has been buried. It was the custom at first when the number of burials was not
great to give each body a "churchyard" grave, and to fill it up at once. This ground is now
available for use again, and it is estimated will provide for some 6,000 bodies.
The area of each grave space is 7 feet by 3 feet. When the cemetery was first opened
9 feet by 4 feet was required for each grave, but about 1884 application was made to the Home
Office, and the adoption of the smaller area allowed.
The depth of private graves varies, but if no special depth is fixed on by relatives 7 feet
are excavated. Common graves are dug 17 feet, and usually six bodies are placed in a grave.
Children are buried in separate graves.
There are brick graves and vaults here, but they are mostly family graves, first buried in
years ago. Brick graves are only occasionally required nowadays.

The total number of burials in 1897 was—


(120.) Greenwich cemetery—Opened 1857.
Situated to the south of Shooter's-hill, not far distant from the Herbert Military Hospital
and the new hospital of the Metropolitan Asylums Board. There are no houses in the immediate
The greater part of the cemetery is situated on sloping ground, and the soil is made up of
clay, which in parts is very damp. The ground is drained by means of main brick drains, and
lateral drains across the burial plots. Only brick graves are connected with the drains. The
depth of the lateral drains varies; the main drain is 12 feet from the surface at the receiving
Brick graves are seldom required. If a vault space be purchased it is often used as an
earth grave.
The total area of the cemetery is 16 acres.
No further information has been obtained regarding this cemetery.
(121.) Hammersmith cemetery—Opened 1869.
The cemetery is situated at Margravine-road, Fulham. Houses have now been erected in
its immediate neighbourhood.
The soil consists of river gravel and sand, the subsoil water being generally reached at a
depth of 12 feet from the surface. It is not deep drained.
The total area is 18 acres, of which about 8 acres are still virgin soil, but no definite
information was obtainable on this point.
The area of all grave spaces, both private and common, is 9 feet by 4 feet for adults, and
4 feet by 3 feet in the case of children.
The depth of private graves is usually 10 feet. Common graves are dug to 12 feet, that is
to the level of the subsoil water. During some years past no common graves have been dug
in new ground owing to the fact that when the cemetery was first opened it was the custom to
give, in the case of each common interment, a separate grave which was then closed. Much of
the ground was therefore occupied by bodies each in a separate grave, but at such a depth as to
allow sufficient interval between it and the surface for more bodies. The period of 14 years laid
down in the regulations having elapsed, this ground is now being used over again. The number
of bodies buried in each common grave depends upon the depth to which these graves can be
Brick graves are seldom made use of now. The number in this cemetery is not large.
The number of interments in 1897 was 1,441 (about 130 private interments on an average
in each year).
(122.) Hampstead cemetery—Opened 1876.
Situated at Fortune-green, Hampstead. There are no houses in proximity except towards
the south-east corner of the cemetery.
The soil consists of London clay, and the cemetery is drained at depths varying from
8 feet to 30 feet from the surface, the drains discharging into the metropolitan sewers. All
common graves and brick graves are connected with the drains. A layer of burnt ballast is
placed in the bottom of each earth grave, and one end of each grave is filled in with ballast up
to the surface with the object of ensuring free drainage of water passing into the grave.
The total area is nearly 20 acres, and of this about 10 acres have not yet been buried in.
There were some 15,000 grave spaces still available in 1897.
The area of private graves is 6 feet 6 inches by 2 feet 6 inches, with an interval of 1 foot
on all sides. If a greater amount of space is required a second space of the same size must be
purchased. Common graves are the same area. Vault and brick graves are 9 feet by 6 feet 6 inches,
or 9 feet by 4 feet. Private graves are usually dug to 11 feet; common graves vary in depth