The Dissenters' Chapel, Kensal Green Cemetery
Kensal Green, London | Listed Grade II*
History and Architecture
The Dissenters' Chapel lies within Kensal Green Cemetery, itself a Grade II* item on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens and a designated conservation area. Kensal Green, London's oldest public cemetery, dates from 1832 and is the resting place of many famous people.
Among the distinguished people buried here are both Sir Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Charles Babbage, William Makepiece Thackeray, Decimus Burton, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope, no fewer than 250 distinguished scientist members of the Royal Society, WHSmith and, more recently, Ossie Clark and Sir Harold Pinter.
Kensal Green is of international importance in the history of cemetery design and is an early example of a 'garden cemetery' of the sort advocated by horticulturalist and cemetery reformer John Claudius Loudon - who is himself buried here. The Anglican Chapel, main entrance, the colonnade and many monuments are also listed but several of the most important monuments have been allowed to fall into disrepair.
Along with the Anglican Chapel, the main entrance and colonnade, the Dissenters' Chapel was designed in Greek Revival style by John Griffith of Finsbury in 1834.
A free 2-page guide can be downloaded here.
Repair and Regeneration
In 1997 a major restoration of Dissenters Chapel was completed after HCT had taken a long lease from the General Cemetery Company. The chapel was then semi-derelict and the main body of the chapel was repaired, the chapel's curved flanking colonnades were reinstated and a historic scheme of painted decoration, dating from the 1860s, was retrieved.
A new visitor centre was constructed behind the north colonnade. A definitive history of Kensal Green Cemetery was published in 2001.
The project received an Environment Award from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in 1997 and a Europa Nostra Award in 1998.
The rescue of the Dissenters Chapel iss intended to be the first of several projects to restore important parts of the Cemetery. Much of this is being led by the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery, a registered charity, that now occupies and manages Dissenters Chapel on HCT's behalf as its offices and as a visitor centre and venue for hire.
The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery run regular events in the Dissenters Chapel and guided walks round the cemetery itself.
The chapel is also available for hire for exhibitions, lectures, meetings and, of course, memorials and funerals.
For details see http://www.kensalgreen.co.uk/