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Letter from Save Southwark Woods Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries to Southwark Council's new burial Councillor Ian Wingfield:


2nd June 2016


Dear Cllr Wingfield,


Destruction of woods, graves and memorials at the Camberwell Cemeteries


We are Save Southwark Woods Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries, the fully constituted friends group for Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries in Southwark.


First, we request we be kept informed of any and all works and plans at Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries, and anything to do with Southwark’s short, medium and long-term burial plans, including planning applications, consultations and meetings.

Will you confirm this will be done?


Second, this is to request that you stop removing headstones and memorials in the Camberwell Cemeteries. This is completely disrespectful of families and the dead.

Will you confirm that no further headstones, gravestones or memorials will be removed?

What are you doing with the memorials already removed?

When can you meet to  show us the headstones and memorials you have already removed and what is being done with them?


Third, we demand that you retract your statement to the South London Press that Southwark Council has not cut down the woods at Area Z Camberwell Old Cemetery, as this is blatantly untrue as photos of the site show.

Will you retract this statement?


Fourth, we request a site visit at the earliest opportunity to Area Z, agreed at the Diocese of Southwark’s Preliminary Hearing, to view and assess the works carried out.

When is the soonest this can be arranged?


Fifth, we demand that you change your website, all point-of-sale material and what your salespeople tell new burial plot buyers regarding the plots that are for sale in the cemeteries. People must be informed if they are buying plots over the graves of other families’ dead.

When will this information be published?


Sixth, we request a meeting with yourself and other councillors to discuss the Council’s plans for the Camberwell Cemeteries.

When can you meet?


I have copied in Southwark Council's Freedom of Information office to register these requests for information and response.


We await your earliest reply.



Blanche Cameron

Chair, FOCC

Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries - Save Southwark Woods

07731 304 966

[email protected]

Stop destroying our woods and family heritage, Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries tells Southwark’s ‘Family History Buff’

2nd June 2016    |    [email protected]    |    @southwarkwoods    |    Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods


The Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries and campaign Save Southwark Woods have today written to Cllr Ian Wingfield demanding Southwark Council stop the destruction of inner city Camberwell Cemeteries, stripping family memorials and cutting down hundreds of trees.


Councillor Wingfield has replaced burial Councillor Darren Merrill - who misleadingly wrote to residents that only one acre of the cemeteries was to be developed (when it was more than two and a half in just the latest plans) and only 19 trees cut down (hundreds were felled in February).


This week, carrying on the Southwark tradition, Cllr Wingfield stated in the South London Press, “We have not cleared two acres of woodland or destroyed a single memorial, let alone hundreds."


But photos clearly show two acres of Grade 1 SINC woods destroyed, and gravestones have been identified as now missing from the site at Camberwell Old Cemetery.


Councillor Wingfield, who describes himself as a ‘family history buff’ on his twitter profile, seems to have no problem destroying family history.


Ten acres of beautiful inner city woods are still under threat, to get at tens of thousands of paupers’ graves beneath their roots. Nothing can replace the family history being removed.


The burial industry’s long-term plan for cemeteries is to excavate every grave over 75 years, to resell as ‘new’ burial plots with people buried over the top.


This is no local issue. Cemetery businesses across Britain, including local authorities and the Church of England, are looking to the Southwark test cases.  


Already, Scotland passed a law in March paving the way for the same approach to dig up and resell old graves. If allowed to proceed, every cemetery owner will do the same across the UK and every grave and tree in the way will be at risk.


What is really driving the destruction?


New legislation in 2007 cancelled the right to ‘burial in perpetuity’, giving the cemetery industry the right to dig up the dead - breaking the promise to leave the dead to rest in peace.


In today’s letter to Cllr Wingfield, Save Southwark Woods demanded to see the memorials that have been stripped from the Southwark-owned cemeteries. They have demanded the Council stop destroying woods and graves, and protect and preserve the remaining woods and the family history of generations.


“This is a horror on a vast scale” said Save Southwark Woods campaigner Lewis Schaffer.  “Hundreds of cemeteries across Britain will be denuded of woods and heritage in the quest for burial industry profit. We are calling for the destruction to stop, now.”


The Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries and the Save Southwark Woods campaign are reaching out to families with loved ones buried in the cemeteries, to nature lovers and to other Cemetery Friends Groups with cemeteries at risk, to raise the alarm.


The letter from the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries to Cllr Wingfield is below.


For additional information, contact

Blanche Cameron

Chair, FOCC

Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries - Save Southwark Woods

07731 304 966

[email protected]

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

Two acres of woods felled without Church permission in February at Camberwell Old Cemetery