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HOP Recreation Ground to Become a Cemetery?
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Posts: 81
Joined: Jan 2011
Post: #41
19-02-2011 06:53 PM

It came to pass.

Extracts from the biographies:

Alderman William Brenchley J.P. (1858 Ė 1938)
William Brenchley was born on 5th June 1858 at 1 Hereford Place, in the registration district of Mile End Old Town, in Londonís Docklands...

Though from a working class background, William was well educated, literate and trained as a school master. In the 1881 Census he is recorded as a teacher, lodging with the Wilson family in Stoke Newington. However, shortly after this he moved to Camberwell, where he was to remain for the rest of his life, to take the position of Class Master at Bellenden Road School. He lived at 11 Gordon Road, Camberwell, and on 7th October 1882, William married Elizabeth Beckett...

In 1891, William succeeded Mr J Tavener as Headmaster of the nearby Dulwich Hamlet School for boys, where he stayed until 1901. Williamís log book as Headmaster, which begins on August 24th 1891, is written in his own clear, fluent hand. He describes his constant efforts to improve the school buildings, the curriculum and the pupilsí work, noting with pride the excellent comments on the standard of education from the inspectors of the School Board for London. By 1894, the school curriculum covered geography, mechanics, French, algebra, English and science (physical, mechanical, botanical and physiological)...

William was also an important and pivotal member of the local community, the President of the East Lambeth National Union of Teachers, and keen to record on 2nd May 1904 that the London County Council had taken over the running of schools and education. At about this time he was also a member of the committee which founded the Nunhead and Dulwich sub-libraries, and the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts...

Williamís career outside of education was eventful and illustrious, shaped by an aim to change the social inequalities of the day...

For this reason, and as a local resident in an area where the population was expanding rapidly, William Brenchley became aware of the need for a new cemetery. Ordinary people at this time often could not afford expensive funerary costs and were unable to bury their dead in a dignified manner: all that was available to them were unmarked paupersí graves. William was Chairman of the Educational Endowments and Burial Committees, and also Chair of the Cemeteries Sub-Committee, and as such made the decision to establish the Camberwell New Cemetery at Honor Oak, which began at the top of One Tree Hill, and is still in use today...

The New Cemetery, a 61 acre site, was opened in 1927, and its chapel, the largest in London, designed by the architects Aston Webb and Sons, was completed in 1928. It was an ambitious project, and a costly one, as the Camberwell Borough Council Minutes for Wednesday October 19th 1932 state that the total expenditure to date on the new cemetery was £98,880 13/- 6d; the amount spent in the borough on new housing over the same period was nil...

Alderman William and Camberwell Borough Council devised a more affordable system for local people by digging graves which could accommodate eight coffins, with space above for eight small headstones. However, these early graves quickly filled with water once dug, as they were positioned at the top of the hill, which was covered in a thick layer of clay. It is said that mourners were often soaked by the splashing of coffins lowered into graves full of water. Then, over time, according to local folklore, the occupants of these higher graves slid down the incline of the hill and were later discovered at the bottom of lower, freshly dug graves...

Alderman William achieved his lifeís ambition to complete fifty years of service in public life, and his death left a vacancy on the Council in what was then Alleyn (Dulwich) Ward. The Camberwell and Peckham Times remarked that there would be Ďnobody to take his place,í whilst The South London Press called him the ĎFather of Camberwell Councilí.

In Alderman Williamís honour, the road between the park and the cemetery was also named Brenchley Gardens.

© Amanda Thomas, 2003.

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Posts: 57
Joined: Jan 2011
Post: #42
20-02-2011 06:00 PM

Sorry everyone, I meant 'soul' not 'sole' so I do apologise,I must had been influenced by the 'Feed me to the sharks' thread!

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Posts: 57
Joined: Jan 2011
Post: #43
20-02-2011 06:17 PM

Also I just had a look and 767 people have signed the e-petition so far,so well done!Thumbsup

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Posts: 201
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #44
20-02-2011 06:59 PM

The situation regarding burial space in South East London, in particular Camberwell new and old cemeteries and Honor Oak Rec was featured on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday morning.

Approx 1 hr 34 mins into the programme

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No Longer Registered

Posts: 61
Joined: Oct 2006
Post: #45
20-02-2011 08:48 PM

To answer Roz's question I believe that the recreation ground is classed as metropolitan open space under the planning laws. Use of such land for burials is permitted but Southwark will need planning permission as it will be a change of use from the current use as sports fields.

Whilst I have every sympathy for those that want a local burial plot let's assume for a minute that the whole of the recreation ground is taken for burial. What happens in 15 years time when that land is completely full?

I can't imagine that local residents will be too enthused by the prospect of using Peckham Rye or Dulwich Park for burials. So the choice will presumably be either to reuse existing cemeteries or compulsory cremation or burial outside London.

If we need a rethink on the future or urban burial it would be better to do that now. Putting off the inevitable for 15 years isn't a solution.

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Posts: 80
Joined: Mar 2007
Post: #46
21-02-2011 11:03 AM

I was actually serious about the multifunctional usage of the rec field.

We live in a crowded city and an increasingly crowded world. If resources can be used for more than one function, why not explore the option. Same is being explored for using the 'to be closed' Lewisham libraries to see if they can serve additional purposes than they already do so they can survive.

It will still provide somewhere for the grieving to visit and pay their respects, yet also allow the living to continue enjoyment. I would not find it disrespectful to the dead, but that is a personal opinion. In fact, they are guaranteed visitors almost every day unlike most lonely and untended burial plots. And having this opinion is not due to being insulated from death, both sets of grandparents died when I was quite young (btween 8 and 16). One set were cremated and the other buried (in a country where they reuse plots and put bones together in another place). My best friend died when I was 31. I still remember all of them in my heart but have never found it a requirement to visit a place to remember/ grieve - again, that works for me.

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Posts: 57
Joined: Jan 2011
Post: #47
21-02-2011 03:22 PM

Yes Roz,I am afraid unless you invent a major vaccine or win the nobel peace prize you will be forgotten just like the rest of us!
In 100 years you will be lucky to be remembered let alone have anyone visit your grave.It will become neglected just like what has happened in the older parts of the cemetery now.

Your argument fails to understand unless there is a change in the current thinking towards burials this will no longer be an option in the future.
Rather instead of saying use the rec you should be looking at the option of reusing burial plots after a certain number of years.

This is why you should sign the petition because it is not just about the rec being kept as green space (it does not solve the problem if used) but also for you making sure not only Southwark but all London boroughs start to look at other ways to safeguard your current right of being able to be buried!

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Posts: 128
Joined: May 2010
Post: #48
21-02-2011 05:11 PM

Why don't they consider burying coffins vertically rather than horizontal as you should be able to fit approx 3 coffins vertically for every horizontal making a space increase factor of 3.

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Posts: 81
Joined: Jan 2011
Post: #49
21-02-2011 06:51 PM

They could dig a two feet wide bore hole with that twist drill going down six hundred foot this being in the water table would fill with water, an upright coffin placed in the grave between the grass
side covers would be unseen to disperse the water to accommodate the coffin the spinkling of earth by the mourners on top would separate it from the next burial, this would allow ninty nine burials at six foot each leaving the top cover six foot of earth.
In these conditions more space would become available with the decomposition to bury more.
Using this way a six feet by two feet Grave plot would take three times by two square foot, Two hundred an ninety seven coffins

Over the last years I have experienced at a burial the signs of water having been pumped from the new open grave to recieve the coffin, so this method would be the same as now practiced.

A morbid thought but is there an alternative?
What we remember is what happened to the coffin.
Did it Burn at a Cremation?
Did it float in an open grave?
It is how we remember that ending.


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Post: #50
21-02-2011 07:43 PM

They could dig a two feet wide bore hole with that twist drill going down six hundred foot

or perhaps drill a little deeper and drop the bodies a little closer towards their final destination!!

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Posts: 57
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Post: #51
21-02-2011 07:53 PM

Burying vertical coffins has been done in Australia and Holland!
Afterwards the land is grassed over for all to enjoy so a bit like a woodland burial and you have no stone

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Posts: 1,796
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #52
21-02-2011 09:53 PM

Sounds a bit like the Ryanair approach.

Southwark are looking at the rec to meet an urgent and presumably fairly immediate social need for burial grounds. To change hearts and minds is more of a longer term exercise. So in the short=medium term what options do councils like Southwark have to bury their dead, say in the next decade.?

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Posts: 83
Joined: Jul 2008
Post: #53
21-02-2011 10:18 PM

So in the short=medium term what options do councils like Southwark have to bury their dead, say in the next decade.?

Take the simple approach. Forbid burial. We're not allowed to do other things in the city that are bad for the environment or society, that people in the country are. So, one of the penalties of living in the city is that you can't be buried there. Don't like it? Move out.

Sometimes, you just have to say "no".[/quote]

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james campbell

Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2011
Post: #54
21-02-2011 11:29 PM

Simply there has got to be a better solution than this. The ground is a hub for the community - mothers with children in the playground, youngsters using this as their only nearby sports centre. It is part of the fabric of the community - people even say hello to each other there! It is surrounded by a cemetery - nothing wrong with that, but it's important that it stays.

This has come quite suddenly, and I don't know what the immediate solution is, but alternatives are being put to the committee next week by James Barber (Lib Dem councillor - google him)

I have written to the Councillor who is, apparently making the decision on this. It is If you feel strongly about this, please write to him too.

Please alert your block of flats or neighbours to this too - I doubt most of the thousands of people who use the centre are even aware of this.

And sign the petition!



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Posts: 85
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #55
22-02-2011 08:29 AM

Discussion taking place now on BBC Radio London (94.9 fm)

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Posts: 57
Joined: Jan 2011
Post: #56
22-02-2011 02:31 PM

That's just it Roz, Southwark have not got 10 years of burial space left.In April the cemetery will be full while Lewisham has 7 years left.Apart from bits here and there,the next phase will be to use the old nursery site.This has spaces for 400-600 graves and with an average of two burials per day at most this will last for a year,then they will come for the rec!

This is why it is important for everyone to sign the petition and get behind the campaign and why BBC London were filming over the rec today.
The rec will give them 25 years of burial space but after this there will be no where else for them to go. Therefore the only way there will be burials in the future is if they start to change how they do it now!

So Roz, if you do not want to sign the petition to save our much loved green space,do it to protect the future right of people like yourself who want the choice of burials in the future!

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Post: #57
22-02-2011 05:55 PM

Article in the South London Press today

BBC London report
Jump to 2:06-2:08

Councillor Barrie Hargrove on BBC London:'Looking at all options...'

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Post: #58
22-02-2011 06:14 PM

Well done to everyone who was down for the BBC London News filming this morning. It featured on the lunchtime news and should be on the 18.30 slot this evening.

Read the BBC London News story:

And go on the Friends blog:

And to sign the e-petition:

Barrie Hargrove has been repeating the Southwark line that there are no spaces left in their cemeteries. But we haven't seen the burial audit carried out recently and we know that there are spaces which can be reused in Camberwell Old and Camberwell New and Nunhead Cemeteries. This must be looked at first and a sustainable plan put together for the future which protects the Rec.

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Posts: 21
Joined: Feb 2011
Post: #59
22-02-2011 06:41 PM

Just checked the BBC News link above and there's now a film with Hillyfielders FC training on the Rec and Richard Hibbert from Forest Hill Society and Alex Feakes being interviewed!

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Posts: 273
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Post: #60
22-02-2011 11:32 PM

just on BBC News now.

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