Burial Data

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John Latimer1 suggests that by the 1830's the population of Bristol was about twelve times greater than it had been in the mediaeval times.  However, the land available for burial had not increased significantly.  The parish churchyards together with a few small private and denominational burial grounds were insufficient and many of them were no longer fit for purpose and clearly a health hazard.  In 1848 the Public Health Act required the closure of most of the inner city churchyards by 1854 and alternative provision became necessary.

1 Annals of Bristol by John Latimer

The 1848 act discontinued burials at the following locations in Bristol:-

All Saints church and passage

Christchurch in the crypt, churchyard and Pithay burial ground

St Augustine-the-less churchyard

St Michael's churchyard

St James's churchyard

St John-the-Baptist churchyard

St Mary Redcliffe churchyard

St Nicholas, in the crypt and before the church

St Peter's churchyard

SS Philip & Jacob's churchyard

St Stephen's churchyard

St Thomas's chancel churchyard and new burial ground

St Werburgh's churchyard

Temple churchyard

Dolman's burial ground, Pennywell Street

Francis's burial ground, West Street

Howland's burial ground Newfoundland Street

Rackhay burial ground

Thomas's burial ground near Clarence Place

Welch burial ground

William's burial ground, West Street

The Infirmary burial ground

Broadmead chapel yard

St Joseph's Roman Catholic chapel

St Paul, Trenchard Street

Counterslip Baptist chapel

 

In addition, the 1848 act placed the following restrictions on burials at the following locations in Bristol:-

Quaker's Friars burial ground

only one body in each grave

Quaker's burial ground, Redcliffe

only one body in each grave

Quakers burial ground, near workhouse

only one body in each grave

Jews burial ground, St Philips Marsh

(Known as Barton Road, St Philips (see below*) only one body in each grave

Jews burial ground, Temple Parish

(Known as Great Garden, Rose Street (see below*) only one body in each grave

St Georges, Brandon Hill

only one body in each grave and no burials within five yards of a building

Zion Chapel, Bedminster

only one body in each grave and no burials within five yards of a building

Cathedral

only one body in each grave, and no burials within five yards of a building plus restrictions in certain areas

Portland Street Weslyan Chapel

no burials within five yards of a building

St Pauls

Burials discontinued except of member of the families of those already interred there

Redcross Street Baptist burial ground

Burials discontinued except to members of the congregation and only one body in each grave

Redcross Street Wesleyan Chapel yard

Burials discontinued except to members of the congregation and only one body in each grave

Bunhill Fields, Redcross Street

Burials discontinued except to members of the tabernacle congregation and only one body in each grave and no burials with five yards of a building

 

Background notes on individual Burial Grounds. 


 The Infirmary Burial Ground - was granted to the Infirmary in 1737 by the Bristol Corporation for the burial of pauper patients who died at the hospital. It soon became crowded partly because some of the ground was so rocky it was unusable so in 1770 it was quarried to make more room.  In 1815 th Council complained to the hospital authorities because they were not burying the dead deeply enough, placing several coffins in one grave on top of each other.  A decision was subsequently made to increase grave depth by 6 inches, to 9 feet 6 inches so that six coffins could be put in each grave with room for "a bit of earth over the top coffin". It was estimated that this would make room for another 1924 bodies in the remaining available space.  One old reference to the burial ground in the Council's plan books describes it as "Soldiers Burial Ground" suggesting that it may have already been in use as a burial ground before it was granted to the Infirmary. 


 

Prior to 1848 there were a couple of private burial companies in Bristol:

 

Howland's Burial Ground: was founded by Thomas Howland, a house painter, in the early 1800's on land in Newfoundland Road which he had owned since 1786.  At the time of it's closure in 1854 (see above), John Howland of 10 Wilson Street was the manager.  The Bristol Records Office has the burial register 1804 - 1854.

Arnos Vale Cemetery: was set up in 1836 when the Bristol General Cemetery Company bought 28 acres of land adjacent to the Bath Road and employed Charles Underwood as architect to lay out a cemetery using about half of the land initially.  The first burial took place in July 1839 but business was slow at first and only about 100 burials took place each year in its early years.  The 1848 act changed all that and from about 1860 the rest of the 28 acres were brought into use. Further expansions took place in the 1890's and in the early 20th century so that the cemetery extended to 45 acres.  The first crematorium in the South West of England was opened at Arnos Vale in 1928 - it was the only facility in the South west until a crematorium was opened in Plymouth in the mid 30's and the only facility in Bristol until 1956 when the Crematorium at Canford opened.  Arnos Vale was the subject of a compulsory purchase order in 2002 and is now owned by Bristol City Council who delegate day-to-day management to The Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust

 

In due course local burial boards opened a number of cemeteries which were eventually acquired by the Bristol City council:

Greenbank Cemetery: was originally set up for the out-parish of St. Philips in 1871, it was extended on 1880 and again in 1899. In September 2014 we published a CD with an index of burials at Greenank cemetery 1871-1991

Avonview Cemetery: was opened in 1883. 

Ridgeway Park Cemetery: at Fishponds was set up by a private company in 1888.  This company was wound up in 1949 and the corporation was obliged to take it over in 1954 due to its deterioration; from that time burials only took place in existing graves.  Unfortunately, we have not been able to find a plan of the areas in this cemetery.

Shirehampton Cemetery: was opened in 1898.  We have a monumental listing for Shirehampton cemetery burials up to 1980, on this website.

Canford Cemetery: was opened in 1903 and the crematorium was opened in 1956.

Brislington Cemetery: was opened in 1905.

South Bristol Crematorium: at Bedminster Down was opened by the council in 1971 and a Cemetery was also laid out with the first interments taking place in 1974.

Henbury Cemetery:

 


Jewish Cemeteries:* - all the information below comes from the following website where you can look up burial details including, in many cases, pictures of the tomb stones:-

http://www.jewishgen.org/JCR-uk/community/bri1/Cemeteries/Cemetery_menu.htm

Barton Road, St Philips: was established in the 1740's and the earliest identified tombstone is dated 1762.  It continued in use (subject to the restrictions indicated above) until the 1900's and the last burial took place there in 1944.

Great Gardens Rose Street: was established in 1811 when a Jewish businessman set aside part of his land for use as a burial ground.  The land was purchased by the Great Western Railway in 1913.  In 1924 27 remaining tombstones were removed and erected in the Jewish Ridgeway cemetery (see below).

Ridgeway, Eastville: was established in the 1890's and the first burial there was in 1898.  The cemetery continues in use today.

 


 

Catholic Cemeteries:

Holy Souls: adjacent to Arnos Vale Cemetery was established in the 1860's when it was acquired by the Catholic church due to generosity of a Liverpudlian businessman.  Within the last few years, a decision was made to limit burials at the cemetery to existing graves only.  The first burial was in 1867 and the first register covers the period 1867 to June 1886.  The entries in theis register are in Latin.  There are six further registers, in English, covering the period 27th June 1886 to the presesent day.  Unfortunately, the second register, covering the period January 1904 to February 1922 is missing.  The original old registers are held in the Diocesan archives in Alexandra House, Pennywell Road, Bristol.


To find out more about making enquiries see the Diocese website:-

http://www.cliftondiocese.com/archives

(Thanks to Tom Page for the information on Holy Souls Cemetery) 


Rosemary Green Burial Ground

This ground was attached to the workhouse at Eastville which was opened in 1847 as 'The Clifton Union Workhouse'.  The burial ground was used for common interments of deceased inmates from sometime in the 1850's until 1895.  The records are in the Brisol Record Offie but full details and lists of names are being published by the Bristol Radical History Group on their website.

 


 

Other burial resources on this website:-

Monumental Inscription Enquiries

They Lived in Bristol - Bristol Burials Index 1813-1837 - CD available from our 'shop'.

Arnos Vale Cemetery - information about the cemetery and its restoration

Shirehampton Cemetery MIs - a free online index

South Gloucestershire Burial Index - a free online index