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Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Friday, 27 August 2010 12:38 UK
Brookwood - the largest cemetery in Britain
Funeral statuary similar to ones seen in Brookwood Cemetery
The final resting place of the rich and famous, as well as the general public

Originally a solution to an inner city problem, Brookwood Cemetery is still in use today, and remains a place of historical interest and wildlife haven.

It was necessary to build the cemetery due to an increase in the amount of people dying in London in the mid nineteenth century.

The numbers of dead exceeded the amount of grave space available to bury them.

An idea was formed to build a huge cemetery outside the city which would be large enough for everyone.

In 1850, the London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company was formed and bought 2000 acres of land at Brookwood, just outside Woking.

Tombstone in Brookwood Cemetery
The Cemetery has been subject to vandalism and theft in recent times

A small area of the land was initially set aside for the first burials and the site was named the London Necropolis Cemetery.

It opened in 1854 and one of the first people to be buried there was Lieutenant General Sir Henry Goldfinch (1781-1854).

His tombstone is the oldest surviving memorial in the cemetery.

At the time, the cemetery was the largest in the world and is still likely to be the largest in Europe.

Over a quarter of a million people have been buried at Brookwood since it opened.

In Victorian times, the bodies and mourners were transported from a private station at Waterloo in London, to Brookwood and into the cemetery, which originally had two railway stations inside it.

The trains ran once a day and the two stations were linked by a private railway line which crossed the Cemetery Pales road which divides the plot, at a level crossing.

One of the stations was demolished in the 1960s and the other burned down in 1972.

The funeral trains stopped running from Waterloo after the London station was destroyed on the night of 16th April 1941 by a wartime bomb.

You can still see the entrance to the station in London at 121 Westminster Bridge Road.

Plots were taken by various parishes or organisations but private individuals could choose where they were to be buried so long as they could afford the fees.

The cemetery boasts some of the grandest mausoleums you are likely to see.

The considerable amount of military graves are looked after by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and first came into use around 1917.

The cemetery is still privately owned, although no longer by the London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company.

It is a peaceful and surprisingly beautiful place, with a wealth of fascinating historic architecture and wildlife.

There are regular guided walks run by Brookwood Cemetery Society.

The Society hopes to ensure the cemetery has a long future as a haven for wildlife and assists with the maintenance throughout the grounds.

They also run a service to help relatives locate graves in the Cemetery.

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