Exploring A Cemetery At Mile End

If you venture down to Mile End, you can explore Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.

This is a historic cemetery that is now a local nature reserve. Although there are still a large amount of gravestones and funerary monuments spread around the cemetery, the area now resembles natural woodland, with many bird and insect species making it their home.

In 1967 the Greater London Council started to clear the cemetery to make way for a new park. This plan did not go down well with local residents who had family buried there. Protests, and GLC’s difficulty getting funding, put an end to the project.

Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park may not be a park, but it is a place for remembrance and a sanctuary for humans as well as nature. It is also a place for festivals and for field studies. There are also a number of trails to explore.



History of the cemetery

The cemetery was originally named The City of London and Tower Hamlets Cemetery but was called Bow Cemetery by locals. It opened in 1841 and closed for burials in 1966. The cemetery was divided into a consecrated part for Anglican burials and an unconsecrated part for all other denominations.

Tower Hamlets Cemetery was formally consecrated by the Bishop of London on Saturday 4 September 1841 prior to being opened for the reception of bodies. The cemetery was consecrated in the morning, the first burial took place in the afternoon.

The “Magnificent Seven”

London’s dead were originally buried in small urban churchyards. However, during the Victorian Era these became so overcrowded that new burial grounds were needed.

Seven great cemeteries (the “Magnificent Seven”) were set up outside the boundaries of the City of London. They were Highgate Cemetery, where lots of famous dignitaries are buried and Tower Hamlets Cemetery, Nunhead, West Norwood, Kensal Green, Brompton and Abney Park.


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