In the 1850s, London and its outskirts had a grisly problem; the churchyards and cemeteries were overcrowded, and any available space was running out. London needed a solution; a giant cemetery and memorial park where the dead of London could be interred with respect.
Brookwood cemetery was created to meet these demands, and was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1852. After 2,000 acres of land was purchased from the Earl of Onslow, it appeared that the London necropolis, which was just 25 miles from the centre of London,
would be large enough to hold Londons dead for the next 500 years.
Brookwood cemetery was to be carefully landscaped by gardeners from Kew, and rows of giant sequoias, exotic trees and shrubs were planted in around 400 acres of the cemetery to guarantee that it would never become like the overgrown and overcrowded churchyards in London.
Notable monuments and burial plots
- Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner – Founded the Oriental Institute and Woking mosque.
- St. Edward the Martyr – his relics are enshrined in the St. Edward the Martyr Orthodox Church within Brookwood cemetery. Healing powers have been attributed to his relics. He was the former King of England.
- Dodi Al-Fayed – said to have been romantically linked to Princess Diana. He was later moved to the Al-Fayed estate.
Brookwood cemetery is considered a site of extreme importance, not only as a cemetery, but as a cultural, architectural, and historical record for many nations. The finest works of many stonemasons are contained within, as well as a wealth of history.
Unfortunately, due to vandalism and weathering, many of the memorials and mausoleums now require restoration.
The columbarium, a grade II listed building, is in need of repair work. A further £4,500, in addition to the money already granted by Woking Borough Council is needed to restore the largest mausoleum in the cemetery to its former glory.
The Bent memorial, also a grade II listed building, is in desperate need of repair. It has been badly weathered, and needs restoration.
Myths and rumours
The golden grave
It is rumoured that when the American dead of the First World War were being transported from Brookwood to Arlington cemetery, in America, they had to be removed of all their valuable goods. These are rumoured to include items gained by looting, such as gold coins and watches, as well as money. To avoid these being stolen from the bodies, and going back into circulation in America, they were buried in one large grave – the golden grave. Many people today go to Brookwood in search of the golden grave, but there is no evidence that the golden grave ever existed.
Mysterious robed figures
On the night of Halloween, many mysterious figures, dressed in dark robes appear at the cemetery. Whether they are pagans, or belong to a cult of devil worship is unknown.
However, it is known that many people practise rituals on the grave of Dennis Wheatley, a prolific writer of occult thrillers, who is buried at Brookwood. Whether or not these incidents are related is unknown.
- Click here to visit the Brookwood Cemetery Society website