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Old Barnes Cemetery (also known as Barnes Common Cemetery, Barnes Cemetery)


Richmond Council has declared the site a nature reserve but although some clearing up was carried out it remains neglected, and it is effectively part of Barnes Common. No boundaries appear to exist and the atmospheric cemetery is encountered through the woodland of the common, its graves and tombstones hidden away among the vegetation, although some paths have been recreated.

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

In 1854 a plot of land in the north-east corner of Barnes Common was enclosed to provide an additional burial ground for St Mary's Barnes, whose churchyard had become overcrowded. The cemetery was laid out with paths, a chapel was built and it was in use until the mid-1950s, with many artists and writers among those buried. After it closed to burials, it was taken over in 1966 by Richmond Borough Council who intended to turn it into a lawn cemetery.

The two-acre plot is the location of 93 graves, most notably a large memorial to the Hedgman family, who were local benefactors in Barnes.

Principal Building

The chapel and lodge were demolished, and the boundary railings removed. It was badly vandalised over the ensuing years and many of the headstones broken. The Council has now declared it a nature reserve and it is effectively part of Barnes Common.

Herbaceous plants including Herb Robert, Ox-eye Daisy, as well as foxglove can indeed be found with some of the more exposed lush greenery.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

19th Century

The cemetery was established in 1854 on two acres of sandy ground purchased by the Church of England for the sum of £10. A chapel, lodge and landscaping were provided at a further cost of £1,400. The cemetery functioned as an additional burial ground to the local parish churchyard.

The cemetery has several interesting permanent residents including the graves of landscape painter Edward ‘Moonlight’ Williams who died in 1855 just a year after the cemetery opened and his two sons, also landscape painters, Henry John (who took his wife’s surname of Boddington and died in 1865) and George Augustus (died 1901).

Other graves include Samuel Rabbeth, (1858–1884) a doctor at the Royal Free Hospital who was a young doctor who died from diphtheria contracted from a child patient whom he tried to save. His tragic death was widely reported in the newspapers and there is a memorial to him in Postman's Park, London.

20th Century

In 1966 the cemetery was acquired by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames with the intention of turning it into a lawn cemetery, a grass-covered area where each grave is marked with a commemorative plaque rather than standing memorials.


Victorian (1837-1901)

Features & Designations


  • Conservation Area


  • Railings
  • Description: Enclosed to provide an additional burial ground
  • Cemetery
  • Description: Cemetery was laid out with paths
  • Chapel (featured building)
  • Description: A chapel was built and it was in use until the mid-1950s
  • Graveyards
  • Description: Location of 93 graves
  • Plantation
  • Description: Herbaceous plants
Key Information


Funerary Site



Principal Building

Religious Ritual And Funerary


Victorian (1837-1901)





Open to the public





  • London Parks and Gardens Trust

  • Photographs provided by David Phipps (Vancouver BC Canada)