Destruction of remaining 10 acres of woods at Camberwell Old Cemetery

Desperately sad:

Thank you @LewisSchaffer and @BlancheCameron for continuing the fight :muscle:


There are no words. Signed.

also signed. How very sad.

Good response to the petition. Over 10,000 signatures so far.

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As stated on a previous topic, the solution is to stop burials, cremate the dead or dissolve them (alkaline hydrolysis). Or make the plots prohibitively expensive.
Cremation could be fun, see Captain Cook, Elizabeth Fry or Robert Browning (credit to the Big Yin)


Is it the same weak argument that this land was always intended to be used for burial plots?

I am clearly going against the grain here. I attended the SSW benefit evening at the Ivy House a while back and came away with no coherent message, and reading this thread and looking at the SSW website just now I am none the wiser.

This campaign appears to want graves preserved in perpetuity yet to retain a ‘wood’ resulting from the entirely understandable neglect of historical graves by generations for whom they held no interest (or the graves would have been tended — and the growth of the trees prevented).

These causes appear to be incompatible, as the second pulls the logical rug from under the first. Why preserve graves indefinitely which will, demonstrably, lose interest for future generations? And why only preserve the existing uncontrolled tree growth? Why not yield the entire cemetery to nature?

As it happens I have no sentimental attachment to the dead human body or memorials to the dead, and I don’t think burial makes any sense, but if it is democratically supported then re-use of grave plots is surely unavoidable. Few care for the graves of their forebears beyond a couple of generations back, and we can hardly classify all graves as heritage sites in need of preservation.

I can’t help feeling that the SSW campaign is a confusing misalliance of two causes somewhat at odds with each other, neither of which I feel able to support.

I am as keen as anyone on urban green space, but surely there are better ways to preserve it and make it enjoyable than burying people in it. And there may be more pressing uses for some of our cemeteries.

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I agree about the lack of cohesion of the SSW argument, and some of the conduct I’ve seen on other forums hasn’t helped them.

I got the impression that the primary aim is to save the existing return-to-wild state (which I also support) but the idea that the existing graves should be preserved was a secondary argument raised in the shotgun school of lobbying (shoot every argument you can at it and hopefully something will hit).

I don’t think it’s illogical though to argue just for the preservation of the existing uncontrolled growth rather than arguing for the whole cemetary though. This is about preserving the existing state of affairs with the cemetary rather than applying a principle of “cemetaries should return to nature” more generally (although I also think we need trees more than neatly trimmed gardens for bodies).

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Thanks FC. I agree that preservation of the existing overgrowth as a nature reserve could be argued for, but not to the exclusion of other possibilities. Cemeteries, especially neglected ones, are major public assets with a variety of potential better uses, and their disposition should result not from default or fait accompli, but from open debate and the planning process. This is already a very leafy area not short of parks — and overgrown cemeteries!

Quite and these include good examples of how this can be done. The SSW vision is essentially like Nunhead Cemetery but then there is Brockley which is at least managed in a more environmentally friendly way.

The green areas, especially the wooded ones, are one of the key features of the local area. Am not saying there can never be an argument for chopping down woods but to do so for medium term burial requirement isn’t one of them IMO. (Southwark do not have legal recourse to reuse graves in Camberwell or Nunhead cemeteries).

The Camberwell, and other local, cemeteries were sited here by the Victorians so that burial happened outside the urban space. Makes just as much sense now as then I think.

There is ecological damage from this too. A lot of old oaks are involved and these are incredibly species rich. But by reducing the size of the niche woodland habitat, this reduces the number of species which the habitat can support.

There is also a wealth of evidence which suggests that trees help to scrub the air we breathe and act as the city’s lungs. We may well have lots of these spaces but at some point we will come to regret clearing a wood and lose what made the area special.


This is appalling how can this happen?

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Essentially because Southwark Council prefer the views of business (Undertakers) over the local opinion (they have consulted and ignored the overwhelming negative response). The planning process is in their favour as they are both applicant and approval body. They make money from burials.

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Sorry the real problem is people burying the dead if there was no demand from selfish people who want to inter a dead and rotting body then we could keep the woods and the real life they support.
Currently around 50% of deaths use burial the plot is secure for 99years I believe there are around 90,000 burials in England so I am sure some clever person working on a 700mm 2000mm plot could extrapolate how much acreage that needs. I believe figures estimate that within 20 years all cemeteries will be full!

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We are counting trees. Please join us.

Tomorrow Earth Day 2018, Sunday 22 April
2.00pm - 4.00pm Camberwell Old Cemetery, East Dulwich,
Camberwell Old Cemetery Gates, Forest Hill Road

To save the doomed 10 acres of woods of Camberwell Old Cemetery, London

We need your help to measure the doomed ten acres of trees and record their value, as beautiful, nature-filled, living, health-giving assets.

Info at:


Yes, we haven’t run the the best or most coherent campaigns, basically because I am involved.
I have found out late in life that I rub people the wrong way. I was annoying to people in New York and it’s the same here.

I got involved with this campaign because I love the two cemeteries. I loved the old woods and graves. Why shouldn’t the two be protected like Nunhead Cemetery? And I thought that Southwark lied to us by saying they were going to use the Rec for burials when it was a just a red herring. Southwark were always planning on reusing graves. Those graves were under woods. I learned that to save the trees, you have to fight for the graves. They had no intention of burying on playing fields.

I feel I have done a lot to alert local people to the colossal waste of greenspace and the destruction of heritage for substandard burial, at best. Whether people around here act, or even care, is something I have no control over.

I know there are people in our area who would be better at this than I am. There is still much to save.


Very candid post. I hope it helps people empathise with you and the work you’re doing to protect London woodland.

Anyone who puts themselves forward and takes leadership of anything will always meet naysayers online. Don’t be disheartened. There are a lot of us who can see the value in your work and who support you, though we may not attend all the meetings and protests.

Future Londoners will look fondly back on those who fought to preserve the vital remaining fragments of nature among this grey, overcrowded city.


They will remember failure. Beautiful places in SE22 and SE23 destroyed. I am sorry I am not up to the challenge.

Southwark Council is cutting down the 12-acre Camberwell Old Cemetery Wood on Forest Hill Road (Underhill and Woodvale Roads). They have already destroyed acres of the Honor Oak Rec and on the side of One Tree Hill for new burial grounds. Sign the petition, email someone. Do something more.


There is a Lewisham Council Forest Hill Assembly meeting next Tuesday 10th July, 39 Honor Oak Road. We can raise the issue there.