Hints from the Health Department. Leaflet from the archive of the Society of Medical Officers of Health. Credit: Wellcome Collection, London
[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]
The number of interments in 1897 was—
(142.) City of London cemetery—Opened 1856.
This cemetery is situated at Little Ilford, Essex, adjoining Wanstead-flats. There are
but few houses in the immediate vicinity of the ground. It is close to Manor-park cemetery.
The ground is for the most part of fairly level surface, and the soil is made up of river
gravol, with clay in parts. The gravel extends to a depth of 15 feet or less. The land is deep
drained, and all common graves are connected with the main drains by drains passing from one
grave to another, and then to the main drain. The effluent discharges to the river Roding.
The cemetery comprises 168 acres, of which 118 are enclosed for burial purposes, and 50
acres are in reserve. In 1892, of this area 56 acres 2 roods had been buried in or devoted to
graves. On an average it is found that each acre contains 1,010 graves, and allowing four bodies
to each grave, the total number of interments up to date would require between 65 and 66 acres.
Approximately, therefore, 100 acres of virgin soil still exist, or sufficient for 404,000 bodies. A
large number of the graves already used are private, and still available for further interments.
The area of private graves is 6 feet 6 inches by 2 feet 6 inches, 6 feet 6 inches by 2 feet
10 inches, 9 feet by 4 feet, and 9 feet by 6 feet 6 inches, with intervals of one foot laterally and of
11 feet 6 inches between rows of graves. Common graves are 7 feet 6 inches by 2 feet 6 inches,
and intervals of one foot are left between graves and rows of graves.
The depth of private graves is usually 10 to 12 feet, and of common graves 12 feet. Six
inches of earth are placed between each coffin, and five bodies are buried in each grave.
Children are buried in separate common graves.
The total number of interments in 1897 was—
(143.) Crystal Palace district, or Elmer's-end, cemetery—Opened 1876.
This cemetery is situated at Beckenham, and is bounded on the north-west by a railway,
on the north-east by a roadway, on the south-east by a sewage farm, while on the fourth side
there are a few houses, but in this part of the ground no interments have taken place.
The cemetery is on sloping ground. The soil consists of London clay, which in parts is
loamy in character and very hard.
There are superficially-laid drains for carrying off surface water, and one drain at a depth
of 11 feet from the surface of the ground which is connected with brick graves. This discharges
to a ditch at the lower boundary of the cemetery between it and the land used for a sewage farm.
The ground approved for use as a burial place is 35 acres in extent; of this 7 acres are
occupied by paths and roads. About 29 acres are yet unburied in. In the ground already used
there are more private than common graves, and very few of the former have been filled.
The area of private graves is 6 feet 6 inches by 2 feet 6 inches, 7 feet by 3 feet, or 9 feet
by 4 feet and 9 feet by 6 feet 6 inches, with intervals of 6 inches laterally between graves and
1 foot or 14 inches between rows of graves. The first mentioned is the most usual size.
Common graves are 6 feet 6 inches by 2 feet 6 inches with intervals of 9 inches laterally
and 1½ feet between rows. The depth of common graves varies between 12 and 16 feet, according
to the position.
One of the conditions of approval in regard to this cemetery is that between and around
each coffin a layer of concrete, 4 inches or more in thickness, shall be placed. This is made by
mixing ballast with lias lime. It is also used in private graves. Children are buried in adult
A good many spaces, of an area sufficient for brick graves or vaults, are purchased, but they
are used as earth graves. The use of brick graves is decreasing.
(144.) East London cemetery—Opened 1872.
This cemetery is situated at Plaistow, E. There are no houses near the ground except on
the south-east. On the north it is bounded by the embankment of the northern outfall metropolitan
sewer, and on the west by land which is unbuilt on.
The ground lies low and is flat, and the soil consists of river gravel varying from 10 to
24 feet in depth. The ground is drained at depths of 16 to 20 feet with pipe drains, which are
perforated at the upper part. No graves are connected with the drains.
The total area of the cemetery is 30 acres, in about 22 acres of which it is stated no
burials have yet taken place; while in 3 acres of ground already used graves are still available
for further interments.
The space of private graves varies, according to position in the cemetery, from 8 feet by
3 feet to 10 feet by 6 feet 6 inches. Common graves are 7 feet by 3 feet in area. Private graves
are dug from 8 feet to 14 feet, according to the wishes of the owners, but a greater depth than
9 feet is seldom required.