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Southwark Council desecrating the graves of the poor. Where have the headstones gone?

15th April 2016    |    [email protected]    |    @southwarkwoods    |    Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods


The memorials of the dead poor being removed from Camberwell Old Cemetery - Save Southwark Woods calls on Southwark Council to stop the desecration now

Today, Save Southwark Woods asked Labour-run Southwark Council to stop desecrating the graves of the poor and demanded to know: Where have their headstones have gone?


New photos from the 150 year-old Camberwell Old Cemetery in East Dulwich show Labour-run Southwark Council’s contempt for the poor - even in death.


Memorials have been removed from vast areas, for the land over the dead to be flogged off as ‘new’ burial grounds.


In the last two months alone, two acres have been cleared of hundreds of trees and the memorials of the dead. Many more acres are to come.


Save Southwark Woods has written to Southwark Council asking to be told where the memorials have gone and what is to happen to them?


Families are disgusted and appalled at the planned destruction of loved ones’ graves and say they have not been consulted:


“Southwark’s whole project is horrific,” said John Repsch.


“My grandmother is buried in a common grave in Camberwell New Cemetery. What is to happen to her? Southwark Councillors are acting like grave robbers. This is theft - of my grandmother’s grave, of our family history, of the respect and dignity I want my grandmother to have in death.”


This is a test case for the UK. All British cemeteries could be at risk of the same destruction if Southwark Council is allowed to continue to bulldoze over the wishes of thousands of residents and families.


“Southwark Labour harps on about being for working class people - while taking away their homes and their graves,” said Blanche Cameron of Save Southwark Woods.


“Southwark is desecrating and bulldozing the heritage of the poor and our nature and history for profit - and against a huge public outcry. Peter John must stop his mass destruction of the beautiful and historic Camberwell Cemeteries now - while there are still woods and graves to save.”


Save Southwark Woods’ letter to Peter John at Southwark Council is below:



Dear Peter John,


Re: Desecration of graves, removal of memorials at Camberwell Old Cemetery - requests for information and site visit


I am writing on behalf of Save Southwark Woods to ask for information and a site visit at the earliest opportunity.


1. Where have the memorials removed from Camberwell Old Cemetery have gone (see photos attached)?


2. What is your justification for this desecration of the graves of the poor?


3. What is to happen to them? Are they to be discarded? Or crushed as part of your mass grave ‘reuse’ project?


4. Why has Southwark Council not consulted with families and residents about your mass grave ‘reuse’ project?


5. In 2012 you adopted a strategy for the mass reuse of graves and have been implementing it ever since, starting with the mounding over of tens of thousands of graves on Woodvale, Camberwell Old Cemetery in 2013? Your website states: “The council’s cemetery strategy prioritises the re-use and reclamation of public and private graves (the law states that graves older than 75 years could be re-used for burial).”


Why then did Southwark Council state to the Evening Standard this week “we are not committed to reuse” and “we will only proceed with reuse after consultation and legal guidance”?


6. When can we view what is now a mass grave ‘reuse’ development site, Area Z at Camberwell Old Cemetery, with independent expert witnesses?


I am copying this request for information and site visit to Chancellor Philip Petchey and Registrar Paul Morris at the Diocese of Southwark, and to Southwark Council’s Freedom of Information Requests department.


I look forward to hearing from you.




Blanche Cameron

Save Southwark Woods Campaign

2016_03_22 COC MEMORIALS 2 2016_03_01 COC MEMORIALS 2016_03_22 COC MEMORIALS 1 2016_02_23 COC MEMORIALS 2016_04_12 COC MEMORIALS 2 2016_04_12 MEMORIALS 1

The story of the Camberwell Cemeteries: Evening Standard 10th April 2016