Brookwood Cemetery, Woking, Surrey
Opened to the public on 13 November 1854 when its first burials took place
Brookwood originally was accessible by rail from a special station next to waterloo station.
Trains had passenger carriages reserved for different classes and other carriages for coffins (also for different classes) and ran into the cemetery on a dedicated branch.
The London Necropolis Company was a cemetery operator established by act of parliament in 1852 in reaction to the crisis caused by the closure of London’s Graveyards in 1851.
The LNC intended to establish a single cemetery large enough to accommodate all of London’s future burials this provided the ability to conduct burials a long distance from populated areas, limiting concerns over public health risks from living near burial sites.
. The LNC offered three classes of funerals
A first-class funeral allowed buyers to select the grave site of their choice anywhere in the cemetery.
Second class funerals cost £1 (about £92 in 2019 terms) and allowed some control over the burial location
Third class funerals were reserved for pauper funerals; those buried at parish expense in the section of the cemetery designated for that parish. third class funerals were not granted the right to erect a permanent memorial on the site. The families of those buried could pay afterwards to upgrade a third-class grave if they later wanted to erect a memorial, but this practice was rare
Brookwood was one of the few cemeteries to permit burials on Sundays, which made it a popular choice with the poor as it allowed people to attend funerals without the need to take a day off work.
While the majority of burials conducted by the LNC (around 80%) were pauper funerals on behalf of London parishes
The LNC provided dedicated sections of the cemetery for groups, on the basis that those who had lived or worked together in life could remain together after death.
The massive London civil engineering projects of the mid-19th century—the railways, the sewer system and the London underground often necessitated the demolition of existing churchyards
The first major relocation took place in 1862, when the construction of charring cross Railway necessitated the demolition of the burial ground of Cure’s College in Southwark which uncovered at least 7,950 bodies These were packed into 220 large containers, each containing 26 adults plus children, and shipped on the London Necropolis Railway to Brookwood for reburial, along with at least some of the existing headstones from the cemetery.
At least 21 London burial grounds were relocated to Brookwood via the railway, along with numerous others relocated by road following the railway’s closure.
In 1878 the LNC sold an isolated piece of its land at Brookwood on which they built Woking Crematorium the first in Britain, in 1879. After 1945 cremation, up to that time an uncommon practice, became increasingly popular in Britain.
In August 1914, on the outbreak of the First World War the LNC offered to donate a piece of land “for the free interment of soldiers and sailors who have returned from the front wounded and may subsequently die”. The offer was not taken up until 1917, when a section of the cemetery was set aside as Brookwood Military Cemetery, used for the burials of service personnel. This purpose-built cemetery came to accommodate further dead from WW2.