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


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

In 2018 we published an index of two recently rediscovered registers of burials in this burial ground 1805 - 1880


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 few 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:

The links below take you to our website 'shop' where you can purchase various buria indexes on CD.  They are also available for purchase as a download at: BAFHS GENfair Stall

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 2014 we published an index of burials at Greenank cemetery 1871-1991. This was volume one of the Bristol Municipal Cemetery Burial Registers 

Avonview Cemetery: was opened in 1883. Volume two of the above registers index was publised in 2017 and includes Avonview Cemetery 1883-1991 

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. Volume two of index also includes Ridgeway Park Cemetery 1888 - 1991

Shirehampton Cemetery: was opened in 1898.  We have a monumental listing for Shirehampton cemetery burials up to 1980, on this website. Volume two of the index also includes Shirehampton Cemetery 1878 - 1991

Canford Cemetery: was opened in 1903 and the crematorium was opened in 1956. Volume two of the index also includes Canford Cemetery 1903 - 1991

Brislington Cemetery: was opened in 1905. Volume two of the index also includes Brislington Cemetery 1905 - 1991

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: was opened in 1923. Volume two of the index also includes Henbury Cemetery 1923 - 1991


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:-


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:-


(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

Bath has a number of Anglican parish-based graveyards, some non-conformist burial grounds and, from the mid-1800s, ward-based cemeteries that catered for both Anglicans and nonconformists.  Although hotly debated in 1859, it was not until 1937 that Bath had a single municipal cemetery at Haycombe and, even then, the ‘closed’ cemeteries continued with burials.
To help family historians locate the place of burial, a Bath Burial Index has been produced.  In September 2016 this went online at the Bath Record Office website http://www.batharchives.co.uk/ . It covers over 45 of Bath’s cemeteries and has over 240,000 burial entries, over 30,000 images of memorials, maps and documentation of inscriptions for some cemeteries. The descriptions of the cemeteries indicate where documentation can be found.
It includes municipal cemeteries such as Lyncombe & Widcombe and St James (Lower Bristol Road), Locksbrook (Walcot, St Saviour’s and Weston sections), Twerton (Bellotts Road), Smallcombe Vale and Haycombe which are not covered by the National Burial Index. 
It would seem that Bath is the only English city which has burial records for municipal and church-based graveyards in one place, online and freely-accessible.

Thanks to Phil Bendall for compiling and providing the above information

Arnos Vale Cemetery stands in 45 acres between the A4 Bath Road and the streets of Knowle in Bristol. A campaign started in the 1980's to stop the then owner's plans to develop part of the cemetery for housing.  With massive local support including the Evening Post newspaper and the Bristol Council, the campaign succeeded.  A restoration programme was completed in 2010 with the aid of a grant of £4.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. 'The Friends of Arnos Vale Cemetery' work hard to support the Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust which now manages the cemetery.

The Trust is taking various initiatives to support the cemtery into the future.  Although it has been 'saved' it is not 'safe', because significant funds are needed to maintain its 45 acres and the buildings.  Arnos Vale still operates as a working cemetery, in addition to scatterings and interment of ashes new plots have been identified for burials at the cemetery.  More recently, natural woodland burial plots have become available in the old woods in the cemetery.  The Atrium Cafe (open every day) is in the Non-Conformist Chapel - where you can also visit a free exhibition about cremation.  There are numerous events held on the site (see: www.arnosvale.org.uk) including regular tours. 


Regular Tours


In addition to private tours and all those advertised, there are regular 'heritage' tours starting at 1.30pm most Saturdays.  These tours last about an hour and start from the Gate Lodges at the Bath Road entrance - there is a small charge.  Useful for family historians who would like to learn a little about the cemetery and how to find their way around. 



Burials: The Burial Registers contain the records of an estimated 170,000+ burials in around 50,000 graves from 1839 when the Cemetery opened.  The Burial Registers are not available to the public but they are held for safe-keeping in the Bristol Archives.  The Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust (which manages the cemetery) will carry out family history searches of these records.  A fee is always charged and full details are available on the Trust website: Arnos Vale Cemetery Family Record Searches .

Cremations: The Registers also contain the records of over 123,000 cremations which took place at Arnos Vale between 1928 and 1998. Once again a search of these records can be ordered for a fee (follow the above link).  However, the Crematorium Books of Remembrance contain memorial texts for many of the cremations from about 1951 and these books are on display to the public in the West Gate Lodge at the Cemetery.  Please apply by visiting reception in East Gate Lodge at the Bath Road entrance. All the historical entries are also freely available to view via the Trust website (follow the link below, scroll to the botttom of the page and click on the white box which should take you to a 'google archive' containing scanned images of the books pages): https://arnosvale.org.uk/cemetery/.