Through nearly ten centuries St Marylebone’s dead parishioners have been buried in a number of places. The first burial grounds, which probably surrounded the first parish church of St John the Evangelist, have long disappeared. Other sites including the Crypt of the 19th century parish church, the churchyard of the 15th - 19th century parish church, St George's Burial Grounds (Paddington Street Gardens), the St Marylebone Cemetery, East End Road, Finchley, London N2, Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey and the East London Cemetery in Plaistow still remain.
Paddington Gardens North
The churchyards of St Marylebone were cleared of headstones long ago, as was St George's Burial Ground which is in Paddington Street, off Marylebone High Street and is now known as Paddington Gardens.
The gardens were built in the 18th century as additional burial grounds for the St Marylebone Parish Church. The land on the south side was donated by Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer in 1730. The land on the north side was later purchased in 1771. The gardens were converted to a recreational area in 1885 and were officially opened on 6 July 1886 by Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll. The majority of the tombstones were removed, although some can still be seen around the edge of the park. The Fitzpatrick Mausoleum in the south garden also remains.
Paddington Gardens South
The burial ground was consecrated in 1733 and between then and the early 1850s more than 110,000 burials took place. Some burials have been recorded to a dpth of 14 metres.
The Crypt of the parish church was cleared in the 1980s to create the St Marylebone Healing and Counselling Centre and the Marylebone Health Centre (NHS) which were opened by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1987. The remains deposited in the crypt were re-interred at Brookwood Cemetery, Woking, Surrey.
Did You Know?
Paddington Street Gardens was a location in the film Felicia's Journey. Directed by Atom Egoyan, this 1999 film sees an Irish teenager travel to Britain to find her British soldier boyfriend following the discovery of her pregnancy. Upon arrival, she accepts the help of a middle-aged man (the late Bob Hoskins), who appears friendly but whose secret and sinister backstory is gradually revealed. Paddington Street Gardens is a place where Felicia works as a gardener.
The St Marylebone Cemetery & Crematorium (East Finchley)
The St Marylebone Burial Board purchased 47 acres (0.19 square km) of Newmarket Farm in 1854; and the cemetery, then known as St Marylebone Cemetery, was laid out by architects Barnet & Brick Ltd. the following year with an Anglican Grade II listed chapel. Principal features are two Lebanon Cedar trees planted on the front lawn. The crematorium was opened in 1937.
Due to local government reorganisation, the cemetery was managed by the Metropolitan Borough of St Marylebone – from 1900; and became the responsibility of the City of Westminster in 1965, when the cemetery became known by its current name. The cemetery contains about 22,000 interments; and remains open for burials.
The cemetery became a point of controversy in the early nineties when the then Leader of Westminster City Council and Councillor Hartley wanted the Cemetery to be sold.
The cemetery also included a considerable amount of land being used at the time for plant propagation for horticultural use throughout the City of Westminster; it also provided housing for the Cemetery Keeper. After much political argument at Council Meetings and against the advice of the Chief Officers concerned, the Cemetery was sold for three pence.
Within a short period of time the cemetery was then sold by a Westminster estate agent for one million pounds. It was then sold on to an off-shore company for three million pounds. How the management of burials came back to W.C.C. is not known.
The Cemetery has two Chapels: the Anglican Chapel was a opened in 1854, to designs of Barnet and Brick. Kentish ragstone facing, plinth of brick, stone dressings. Roofs of slate. Cruciform in plan, with shallow rectangular apse of one bay, crossing, north and south transepts of one bay each, and two bay nave; exterior entrance porch of one, rib-vaulted bay; narthex at west end of nave formed from wood panel screen. Clasping and angle buttresses used throughout.
East elevation has a blocked recess indicating position of altar and a tracery rose window. North (this one) and South transept elevations have one three-light, tracery window each, sill band and boldly scaled angle buttresses. West elevation, seen from main entrance, most diamatic: subordered entrance porch with three-light tracery window above, the pair framed by clasping buttresses. Bell cote above of base, middle bell stage strengthened by flying buttresses and crocheted spire. To either return a single storey wing with lean-to roof, functioning as serving room/vestry and approximating position of nave aisle.
The Non-Conformist Chapel was also opened in 1854 as a Dissenter's mortuary chapel. It was built to the designs of Barnet and Brick. Kentish ragstone facing plinth of brick; stone dressings. Roof of slate, gable facing. Rectangular in plan; three bays. Gothic Revival. Traceried roundel in ritual east end (this one); centre and east most bay with broad, two-light tracery windows; west most bay with narrower light to each return and polygonal stair projections which lead to substructure; angle and clasping buttresses of two setbacks each. West front most prominent with subordered entrance and planked double doors having metal strap hinges; three-light window - with intersecting tracery and ogival hood above; gable copings, kneelers and crosses.
Some Notable Burials at East Finchley
•Robert Donat – Actor
•Sir Henry Bishop – Professor of Music at Oxford and operatic composer
•Leopold Stokowski – Conductor
•Sir Robert Harmsworth – Newspaper Publisher with a memorial by Edwin Lutyens
•Henry Charles Stephens – Ink magnate, philanthropist and local MP
•Algernon Borthwick, 1st Baron Glenesk – Memorial chapel and Mausoleum
•Thomas Henry Huxley – Scientist
•Harry Champion – Music Hall Singer
•Matthew Garber – Actor
•Heath Robinson – Artist and cartoonist
•Marie Studholme – Actress and Singer
•Little Tich – Music Hall singer and dancer.
•Gaynor Rowlands – Actress and Singer
•Thomas Stevens – Cyclist, the first one to circle the globe by bicycle
•Keith Blakelock – Police Constable murdered in Tottenham riot
•Harold Harrison - England rugby union international
There are 75 Commonwealth service war burials of World War I in the cemetery, most in the War Graves plot in the cemetery's north-west corner that was set aside for military burials in 1916, and 79 of World War II (including two unidentified British soldiers). A Screen Wall memorial, behind the Cross of Sacrifice, records the names of the 20 Second World War casualties who were cremated at the St Marylebone Crematorium. There are also special memorials to eight World War I servicemen whose graves could not be marked by headstones.
The Memorial Cross at Brookwood Cemetery was designed by Sean Lander, Church Architect, of Welch and Lander, Upper Berkeley Street. It was executed in Portand Stone to suggest the metropolitan connection. The lettering is by Caroline Webb.
East London Cemetery