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Public outcry triggers rare Church Court Hearings on felling woods to mound over the dead in London - process starts Monday

12th May 2016    |    [email protected]    |    @southwarkwoods    |    Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods


A small community in south east London is forcing the Church of England’s Consistory Court to rule on a council’s massive grave mounding programme.


The Diocese of Southwark was swamped by over 800 objections to plans by Southwark Council to fell acres of inner city woods to cover over graves for burial.


The community outcry has triggered a rare legal process by the Diocese of Southwark’s Consistory Court at which the Church could act to save threatened woods, graves and heritage. But will they act? 


The preliminary hearing is to take place on Bankside at the Diocese of Southwark’s offices at 2.30pm Monday 16th May.


The Diocese, Southwark Council and the community, represented by the Save Southwark Woods campaign, Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries, will clarify arguments and set a date for the full hearing.


Southwark Council’s applications are the largest mass burial excavation and mounding project in the UK and a test case for the billion pound burial Industry. It will be first time the Diocese will make a public decision on the viability of inner city burial.


In the latest stage of the Council’s programme, Southwark has applied for Church permission for development, in Camberwell Old Cemetery to cut down acres of woods and mound over 48,000 graves for inner city burial, and in Camberwell New they want to fell up to 60 trees for less than nine months’ burial on historic One Tree Hill.


The Diocese has a say over the developments in Camberwell Cemeteries because although they are Council-owned much of the land is consecrated.


But two acres of inner city woods in the Old Cemetery have already been felled without the Church’s permission, and many memorials removed - ahead of the hearing.


The tiny campaign group Save Southwark Woods will be representing thousands of Southwark residents fighting to stop the council from clearing woods and mounding over graves, scarring Victorian-era Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries irreparably.


The City of London Cemetery has dug up over 1500 graves. But Southwark’s plan is much greater - every ‘non-historic’ grave over 75 years old is to be dug up, every common grave mounded over, and virgin woodland cut down on historic One Tree Hill. They have started by mounding over the graves of the poor.


Will the Diocese stop a new road from being driven up historic One Tree Hill over paupers’ graves and dozens of trees from being cut down?

Will they stop beautiful Victorian-era headstones being removed and destroyed?  

Will they say no more mounding over people’s graves?

Will they stop acres more woods being chainsawed to get at the graves?


Will the Church side with families who are buried in the cemeteries or will they side with the Council who want to sell off valuable London woods and graves for inner city burial?


Which side will the Church be on?


Blanche Cameron

Save Southwark Woods Campaign

Chair, Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries


Preliminary Hearing:

2.30pm Monday 16th May

Diocese of Southwark

Minerva House 5 Montague Close London SE1 9BB




07731 304 966


Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries

Save the Heritage and Beauty of Britain's Cemeteries 

Skull and bones in full view dug up by Southwark Council in Camberwell Old Cemetery 2008. Image courtesy of South London Press, read article here...

Bones Dug up by Council in Camberwell Old Cemetery