Why Are The Camberwell Cemeteries So Far From Camberwell?

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 27 months ago
Why Are The Camberwell Cemeteries So Far From Camberwell?
The entrance to Camberwell Old Cemetery at the junction of Wood Vale and Langton Rise. Photo: Joe Pepper

Just to the north of Denmark Hill in south London sits Camberwell, with its many lovely pubs and restaurants, Camberwell Green, St Giles Church and more.

Head more than 2.5 miles south east from Camberwell, south of East Dulwich to the area between Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park, and you'll find not one but two Camberwell cemeteries. Both have the postcode SE22, whereas Camberwell's is SE5.

So why are these cemeteries so far from the place that gave them their name?

Let's start with Camberwell Old Cemetery. It was opened in 1855 as the Burial Grounds of St Giles Church in Camberwell. The Camberwell Burial Board realised that the local cemeteries were running out of room, and that they needed to do something fast. So they purchased 30 acres of meadowland where Camberwell Old Cemetery sits today and started burying the dead there.

Why Camberwell was suffering more from overcrowded cemeteries than other areas in unclear, but it's likely that the hospital (opened in 1840 and now King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) contributed.

Camberwell New Cemetery was opened in 1927, as things were getting pretty crowded in what then became known as Camberwell Old Cemetery. By 1984, 300,000 burials had taken place at the Old Cemetery, and the New Cemetery is now used for the majority of burials.  

Last Updated 31 May 2016