The General Cemetery of All Souls at Kensal Green was the first of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ Cemeteries of London and was originally founded in 1832. It received its first funeral in January 1833 and currently over 250,000 people have been laid to rest here. It still conducts burials and cremations to this day. Kensal Green was founded by barrister George Frederick Carden (1798-1874) who had heard of the availability of a smallholding of 77 acres at Kensal Green, and it is still owned by the same company. Of the 77 acres for sale only 55 acres were available at first, with the vendor holding back the rest for sale to the company at a future date. Almost immediately the General Cemetery Company contracted Richard Forrest (who was then Head Gardener to the Duke of Northumberland at Syon Park) to transform the smallholding into a cemetery landscape, providing what was in essence a gentleman’s country park.
Burial in the new cemetery was rather frowned upon initially, but when The Prince Augustus Frederick, the Duke of Sussex (the sixth son of King George III) chose Kensal Green as his eventual place of burial in 1843 the Company’s fortunes were assured. Then in 1848 his sister HRH The Princess Sophia (George III’s fifth daughter) also chose Kensal Green. Finally in 1904, the remains of HRH The Prince George, the Duke of Cambridge were deposited in the mausoleum that he had purchased in square 140 behind the Anglican Chapel.
As with many other Victorian cemeteries, some of the tombs on Kensal Green are to modern eyes very dramatic. In most cases the inhabitants are long forgotten, but the tombs remain. A striking example of this was the tomb of Mary Eleanor Gibson, who was born in 1854 and died in 1872 (picture below). Completely unknown today the angels on top of her large tomb watch over the day to day comings and goings of the cemetery.
There are over 1,500 notable personalities buried here including; the engineers Sir Marc Isambard Brunel and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Also here are Charles Babbage (‘the father of computing’); merchants William Henry Smith and William Whiteley; novelists Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope and William Makepeace Thackeray.
Those known to have been buried here:
Amy Elizabeth Dane, age: 69, burial date: March1960