Families invited to free fun day at Brompton Cemetery
The Friends of Brompton Cemetery host stalls, tours and events
Brompton cemetery in West London will throw open its doors to the local community with a jam-packed programme of educational and family activities on its annual open day – the first since a major £6.2m restoration.
The event on Sunday 22 July*, follows the completion of a multi-million pound National Lottery-funded project, managed by The Royal Parks charity to restore crucial monuments and architecture – breathing new life into the space with a new visitor centre and cafe, and the introduction of a community events programme.
Several tours including a visit to a section of the catacombs** will be running throughout the day showcasing the cemetery’s heritage and natural environment. Nature lovers can take a ‘horticulture tour’ – and find out more about the rich diversity of wildlife living in the cemetery, which includes more than 60 tree species, 200 moth species and many types of bats, invertebrates, moths and birds.
A number of family-friendly activities will also be on offer. Children can visit the newly-renovated Grade II*-listed chapel or listen to the amazing story of Chief Long Wolf - who was buried at the cemetery in year 1892***. There are 205,000 other burials at the site – and visitors can see monuments to notable historical figures such as Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the suffragette movement; Sir Henry Cole, founder of the V&A museum, and Dr John Snow, who discovered the link between cholera and contaminated water. Also buried at the cemetery are 2,625 former Chelsea Pensioners.
There will be more than 25 stalls reflecting local projects and opportunities. Visitors will have the chance to see a live Apiary and a working Edwardian Hearse, they can meet Metropolitan Police Horses, see birds of prey, sample culinary delicacies or take part in a ‘sing off’ with Radio Days Sing to Live, Live to Sing. Other activities include a family drumming session, or the chance to explore ‘classical baroque’ - from handling instruments to exploring musical sounds in a relaxed, friendly concert.
Arthur Tait, Chair of Friends of Brompton Cemetery, said: “I’m delighted that the open day which the Friends have managed for 20 years, but couldn’t run last year due to the restoration works is taking place again – and we’re hoping this year will be bigger and better than ever before!”
Halima Khanom, Partnership and Community Engagement Officer, Brompton Cemetery, said: “We’re delighted to work with the Friends to host this open day to further the community spirit through a free day of fun, discovery and relaxation with family and friends.
“We’re incredibly proud to unveil the cemetery after a huge restoration project that’s transformed it from a dilapidated space into a fully-accessible vibrant location.
“We want the cemetery to be just as much for the living as it is for the dead, where locals from a densely-populated part of London can discover history and explore nature on their doorstep.
“It’s a great way to spend a Sunday. It’s free to come along and there’s something for everyone – whether you’re a history boffin or a nature lover – or you simply fancy popping into our new visitor centre and cafe to sip a latte and take in the incredible views.”
The £6.2 renovation project ran from 2014-2018. It was funded through a £4.5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the BIG Lottery Fund - thanks to National Lottery players - alongside an investment of £1.7m from The Royal Parks, the charity which manages the cemetery, and generous donors, with support from The Friends of Brompton Cemetery charity. This is the first cemetery to be funded under HLF’s Parks for People programme.