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Southwark is destroying the memorials and graves of a Victorian cemetery and plans to dig up thousands of dead - with no archaeological survey.


Hundreds of memorials already removed for new burial areas over graves, including WW1 and WW2 war graves.


Southwark Council is developing Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries since 2011 with no archaeology survey. They are  scraping away acres of headstones and memorials, and mounding over thousands of dead including dozens of WW1 and WW2 Commonwealth War Graves.


Next Southwark intends to dig up thousands of graves across Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries - to sell off the plots for new burials.


This historic cemetery is being transformed. And it is a national test case for cemeteries across the UK.


Bianca Jagger, Peter Tatchell, Tony Juniper and others are supporting our call to make the Camberwell Cemeteries nature reserves, with respect for the monuments and the dead buried here as well as its rich natural assets and their benefits.  


Southwark Council has stated in planning documents for the latest development on Area Z for burial area over 48,000 thousand people's graves including 48 WW1 and WW2 CWGC war graves:


"no archaeological interest is present within the site at depths likely to be affected and more detailed assessment was not necessary."


Camberwell Old Cemetery, called London's 'lost Valhalla' by Southwark cemetery historian Ron Wollacott, opened in 1856.


It is the final resting place of at least two Victoria Cross recipients, over 300 WW1 and WW2 war casualties, the grave of Victorian tea merchant and museum-founder John Horniman and the monument to his wife Rebekah, as well as the graves of over 300,000 other Londoners.


The Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries is calling Southwark to stop all development and carry out a full archaeological survey and assessment of both cemeteries.


Please join us to fight for archaeologists to be involved in Southwark’s developments.





Southwark policy on archaeological recording of development sites:


“Recent development in the borough has increased the opportunity to undertake archaeological excavation.


Many important sites have been buried under Victorian period buildings. Rescue excavations have taken place on sites investigated only recently for the first time prior to redevelopment.


Despite this our knowledge is still partial, limited by the time available for excavations, the boundaries of the site being developed and sometimes by ground disturbance of more recent Years. Developers are required to report possible archaeological finds to Southwark Council's Archaeology Service, which monitors and coordinates excavations and cares for scheduled ancient monuments in the borough.”


Note 2:

Area Z 15/AP/3185 planning application form Section 9 Materials:

Are you supplying additional information on submitted plan(s)/drawing(s)/design and access statement?



If Yes, please state references for the plan(s)/drawing(s)/design and access statement:

See planning Application Document list.


Which includes Area Z Design & Access Statement in which Section 3.8 Archaeology claims no archaeological interest of the site because:


"3.8.2 No private tombs/vaults are present in the main part of the site as it comprises in the main an area of public burials.  


3.8.3 It is therefore anticipated that no archaeological interest is present within the site at depths likely to be affected and more detailed assessment was not necessary."




Appendix 4.1 Planning Policy

Strategic Policy 12 Design and Conservation


4.68 The approach Development will achieve the highest possible standards of design for buildings and public spaces to help create attractive and distinctive places which are safe, easy to get around and a pleasure to be in.


4.69 Achieved by:  

Expecting development to conserve or enhance the significance of Southwark’s heritage assets, their settings and wider historic environment, including conservation areas, archaeological priority zones and sites, listed and locally listed buildings, registered parks and gardens, world heritage sites and scheduled monuments."

Southwark Council claims archaeologists not needed for redevelopment of Victorian Cemetery

6th June 2017




Poor Graves and Cut Trees (898 x 585)    |    [email protected]    |    @southwarkwoods    |    Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods

Woodvale Area F AREA Z UNDERHILL NORTH 20160223 (1373 x 772)

Photos above: Development work above graves in Camberwell New Cemetery 2017. Below: Area previously mounded over in 2011-2013 with memorials removed.

Contact: Blanche Cameron

Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries /

Save Southwark Woods Campaign

07731 304 966 / [email protected] /