Its beautiful Grade II* listed monuments were erected in memory of leading members of the Greek community in 19th-century London, but the graves in West Norwood cemetery are now in a dire state of neglect – with one decaying casket recently photographed covered in a thick layer of pigeon droppings, with a limb protruding.
Lambeth council, which compulsorily purchased the cemetery more than 50 years ago, recently withdrew security to save money and campaigners are calling for urgent action to protect listed monuments from ruin.
Prof Bob Flanagan, an academic at London University and chairman of the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery (FoWNC), told the Guardian that this was no way to treat the dead. “It’s disrespectful and shocking,” he said.
“It’s also a health and safety hazard for people walking round the cemetery. In some instances, coffins are exposed and there might be accidents with people falling into decayed vaults”.
The south London cemetery includes the Hellenic Necropolis, some of whose Grade II* monuments are on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.
Dr Victoria Solomonidis-Hunter, a Greek-British associate lecturer at University College London, said she has been taken aback by both the beauty of the monuments and their “heart-breaking state of decay”.
Read more: The Guardian