A 2017 ruling by Church of England is proposing that First and Second World War soldiers’ graves might not need to be marked with Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones.
Under its Royal Charter, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is obliged to try and mark every war grave from the two world wars with a CWGC headstone.
The Church's ruling supports Southwark Council’s attempt not to mark WW1 and WW2 soldiers’ war graves with headstones.
The Church of England has a say in what happens to graves on consecrated ground in municipal cemeteries. Councils must apply for permission for development. But war graves come under the CWGC.
Of 48 war graves located in one area of Camberwell Old Cemetery, Southwark intends not to erect headstones for 23 war graves located under planned roads and landscaping:
Philip Petchey, Chancellor of the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Southwark in February 2017 ruled on Southwark’s application:
“It is proposed that 25 of the 48 would be marked by new headstones at appropriate places in the proposed terraces. There would be practical difficulties in marking in this way the remaining 23 graves” (Para 30).
Petchey’s ruling continues:
“in the present case it might be better for all 48 graves to remain unmarked” (Para 45).
The Church of England ruling gives Southwark the go-ahead to mound over almost 50,000 people buried in Area Z.
Just because the Church supports Southwark’s plans doesn’t make them right.
This is a test case for all cemeteries in London and the UK.
War graves are another reason why Southwark’s burial plans must stop and the cemeteries be made nature reserves.
Contact the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries
Save Southwark Woods campaign
07731 304 966
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CEMETERY SCANDAL: Church of England suggests CWGC need not erect headstones to First World War soldiers
Their Name Liveth For Evermore:
Camberwell Old Cemetery War Memorial where the names of World War One soldiers buried in the cemetery are inscribed. The locations of 160 graves are known but 131 WW1/WW2 soldiers are buried in unknown locations somewhere in the cemetery. Southwark did not look for them before starting to develop over their graves.
Below: Area Z where two acres of woods were clear-felled over tens of thousands of graves including 48 WW1 soldiers' graves, for more 'new' burial plots, and roads to access them.
Bottom: Are war soldiers lying buried beneath 'new' burial plots developed in 2013 in Areas F/F1 Woodvale in Camberwell Old Cemetery? Memorials cleared to mound over thousands of graves.
An example of a CWGC pattern headstone, this one is at Highgate Cemetery