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Going 'to paradise by way of Kensal Green': A most unfit subject for trading profit?

By A. J. Arnold and J. M. Bidmead


Since the Reformation, the established Church had monopolised the English burial trade. In London, in the 1830s, burial conditions posed a serious threat to public health and a number of limited liability companies were licensed by Parliament to provide new facilities for the interment of the dead on the edges of the city, before the main responsibility was then transferred to local government. The paper examines the changes in government thinking that lay behind these policy shifts and explains why private sector capitalists were unable to meet the various expectations of customers in the London burial market, its own stakeholders and society more generally

Topics: burials, public health and municipalities, joint-stock companies, privatisation
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1080/00076790801968921
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/8842

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  1. 102; Stephenson, ‘Brompton’, 3; Curl, ‘The Design’, 223-54; Lambeth Borough, West Norwood; Manning, The Listed Structures.
  2. 177, 183. Jeremy Bentham was the shining exception to the prevailing hypocrisy, leaving his body for dissection and embalming.
  3. (2004). 26. The legal position governing burials in municipal cemeteries was clarified by the Local Authority Cemetery Order
  4. 40; Meller, London, 190; annual report 1842,
  5. 44. See annual report 1835,
  6. 47; Edwards A History of Financial, 92; Patterson and Reiffen, ‘The Effect of the Bubble Act’, 166; see also Cottrell, Industrial Finance, 8-10 and Hunt, The Development .
  7. 5 acres of land that gave them valuable frontage onto Fulham Road; minute books West of London and Westminster Cemetery Company,
  8. A History, 14-15, 23; Finer Municipal Trading,
  9. A History,24-25, 149; Briggs Victorian Cities,
  10. acres, Nunhead 52 acres, Brompton 39 acres (plus 5 acres bought in 1844), Abney Park 32 acres (the company also bought land for another cemetery at Chingford Mount,
  11. After they were accused, Hare turned Kings Evidence and Burke was hanged and publicly dissected; see Fido, Bodysnatchers,
  12. And one more may be laid there’, doi
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  15. British population change’ 89; Hobsbawm,
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  19. for example, the annual reports of the General Cemetery Company.
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  22. (1902). London’s first crematoria was opened at Golders Green in
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  25. Points of Entry’, 62; Report on the Sanitary Conditions,
  26. Points of Entry’, 62. Kensal Green was 54 acres (plus 15 acres acquired in 1853),
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  30. (1881). The City’, 120. The exception was Abney Park, whose founders objected on principle to consecration. It became a limited liability company by registration (rather than Act of Parliament) in
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  32. The development of municipal’, doi
  33. The first of the Bills, to establish a ‘General Cemetery for the Interment of the Dead in the Neighbourhood of the Metropolis’ was passed by Parliament in July 1832. The Reform Bill received its Royal Assent the previous month.
  34. The improvement was maintained; rates of return across the period 1850-90 averaged 6.3 per cent; ledger 1837-1873, minutes of general meetings and annual accounts 1864-1890, South Metropolitan Cemetery Company IV/100/AD/3/1,
  35. The library of the London School of Economics on Portugal Street, near Lincoln’s Inn Fields, now occupies part of the site of the Green Ground; Kiloh, ‘A Corner of London’, 15-17. See also Pinfold, ‘The Green Ground’,
  36. The Rise of Cemetery Companies,
  37. The Rise of Cemetery Companies, 29; Report on the Sanitary Conditions,
  38. The Victorian Celebration of doi

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