Beckenham Crematorium in it’s present form was established
in 1956 on the site of the former Crystal
Cemetery, which dates
back to 1880 and contained two gothic style chapels designed by the published
architect Alexander Hennell.
Covering over 12 hectares of land, the oldest part of the
cemetery lies around the main entrance with an Edwardian lodge just inside the
large, wrought iron gates. One of the
chapels was badly damaged by bombing raids during the Second World War and was
eventually demolished in the 1960s. The
second chapel survives today and serves as the Crematorium’s chapel for funeral
services. Located just next to the
chapel is a small dome shaped building containing a book of remembrance in a
glass cabinet and behind the chapel is a waterfall and rock pool feature.
There are burials from both World Wars and there is a
memorial to 21 members of the Beckenham Auxiliary Fire Service who were killed
during the course of a single night’s bombing in April 1941, one of the
heaviest air raids of the second World War in London.
A number of well known historical figures are buried here,
namely W G Grace the famous cricketer who scored 126 centuries in a career
spanning over 40 years, Frank Bourne - last known survivor of the battle at
Rorke’s Drift in the Anglo-Zulu war, Josiah, 1st Baron Stamp who was
a director of the Bank of England and ICI, president of the Geographical
Society and an influential government advisor, Frederick Wolseley creator of
the Wolseley car with Herbert Austin in the late 1890s and Thomas Crapper who,
whilst not actually the inventor of the flushing toilet, did much to promote
the popularity of the toilet and developed some important related inventions
such as the ballcock.
Situated next to South Norwood
the crematorium and cemetery enjoys a tranquil, well-wooded setting laid out
with intricate pathways of either asphalt or grass. Gardens of remembrance with
brick-piered pergolas, rose beds and a variety of monuments provide the ideal
surroundings for quiet reflection and remembrance.