The Islington and St. Pancras Cemetery
in East Finchley
, North London
while situated in the London Borough of Barnet
is actually two cemeteries, owned by two other London Boroughs, Camden
. It is the largest cemetery in London, and its interred residents number amongst them wealthy industrialist and humanitarian Ludwig Mond
, original cockney “pearly king” Henry Croft
, Pre-Raphaelite artist Ford Madox Brown
and first Mayor of Islington William Crump
Origin and Development
The cemetery was established in 1852 as the first municipally owned cemetery in London when the St Pancras Burial Board
bought 88 acres of the former Horseshoe Farm
on Finchley Common
. A further 94 acres were annexed in 1877 and the total area was divided between Islington and Camden, the former having two areas to the north-west and east, the latter having the remainder. A bank and ditch along the eastern edge marks the parish boundary between Finchley
. To the south the cemetery is bordered by the ancient woodland
of Coldfall Wood
, to the north the North Circular road
and to the west by the A1000
Great North Road.
The cemetery features several chapels and a large crematorium built in 1937.
The cemetery has a war graves plot containing over 100 graves from both world wars, together with a number of headstones retrieved from graves that were scattered elsewhere in the cemetery and could not be maintained. A memorial bears the names of 27 casualties whose graves could not be marked individually, and of six First World War casualties buried in adjacent Islington Cemetery who could not be commemorated there.
Cemetery Opening Times
- Daily including Bank Holidays Summer: 9am - 5pm
- Winter: 9am - 4pm
- Christmas Day: 10am to 2pm
A wide variety of habitats can be found in Greater London's cemeteries. St Pancras and Islington Cemetery is a good example, as it supports areas of neutral grassland, wetland, scrub and secondary woodland.
The London Ecology Unit has advised the owners on management aimed to conserve natural features, whilst recognising the primary use of the cemetery as a burial ground. In recent years, there has been a policy of informed indifference to areas that are not in active use for burials. The result has been a proliferation of natural wildlife. Large tracts of scrub and secondary woodland have been allowed to develop on former burial plots, supplementing the original plantings, and producing an exceptionally diverse habitat.
This mixed secondary woodland consists largely of sycamore
, with much pedunculate oak
. Some exotic ornamental trees have been introduced from time to time, including avenues of limes
and horse chestnuts
, Lawson's cypress
, various pines
Holly and bramble woodland flora grows beneath the trees and alongside paths, including bluebells, pignut, goldilocks buttercup, cuckoo flower, bugle, and wild strawberry. These have spread from the adjacent woodland, or survived from the cemetery's prior existence as Horseshoe Farm.
In the north-east corner of the cemetery, the Strawberry Vale Brook, culverted for most of its length, emerges into an open course. Wetland habitats here contain mature White Willow, rushes, reedmace, marsh thistle, pendulous sedge, and great willowherb.
Year-round inhabitants include green and great spotted woodpeckers
, coal tit
, as well as all the commoner scrub-loving species like dunnock
. The spring sees the arrival of chiffchaff
, willow warbler
and lesser whitethroat
, while in the winter redwing
are a common sight.