We currently offer grave space at Lambeth and Streatham cemeteries for earthen graves. This can only be purchased at the time of need. We do offer other options such as burial chambers at both sites, which can be purchased in advance.
West Norwood Cemetery is closed to new burials. We can offer cremation at this site or, if appropriate, cremated remains graves are available for at need purchase.
Services at our cemeteries
We can offer private graves for one or two interments at Lambeth or Streatham cemeteries. Exclusive rights of burial can be purchased or increased in 25-year increments to a maximum of 100 years' lease at any one time.
Public graves, cremated remains graves and a dedicated children's area are also available at Lambeth Cemetery.
With beautiful trees, gardens and an abundance of wildlife, each cemetery provides a serene and dignified setting for you, your friends and family to say goodbye to a loved one.
Following new government rules on reducing the spread of coronavirus, we have introduced a number of measures to protect mourners and staff at our cemeteries and funeral services.
Graves are prepared for burial in advance of the service. If the grave is left open overnight, it will be covered or made safe. The Bereavement Services team manage burials across three sites so we may need to prepare a burial in advance or on the day itself.
All graves are entirely backfilled, usually by machine on the day of burial. You can leave once the committal has taken place or you can stay while we fill the grave. You are welcome to do either.
The regulations for Lambeth Cemetery were recently revised to allow headstones, or full or kerbed memorials on graves.
The regulations for Streatham Cemetery are currently under revision - January 2019.
West Norwood Cemetery has separate regulations for unconsecrated and consecrated grounds - this means land that has been declared sacred.
Contact us to find out which applies to your grave.
Arranging the burial yourself
It is both lawful and possible for you to arrange the burial yourself. All that is required is a death certificate signed by a doctor and a certificate of burial from the registrar.
You will need to consider how the coffin is transported to the cemetery, and that there are sufficient persons available to lower the coffin into the ground.
If you wish to have the body buried on private property, you will need the permission of the landowner. You should also consult the Environmental Health and Planning departments of the relevant borough to ensure that there are no objections.
Once completed, the burial needs to be recorded properly and entered onto the deeds of the property.
Once the body has been buried, it can only be disturbed or removed with the authorisation of a Home Office licence.
Things to consider
When checking personal effects of the deceased for a will and relevant documents, it is sensible to try and find out if they had already arranged a grave space in a churchyard or cemetery, or if they have a pre-paid funeral plan.
If a grave space has already been paid for in our cemeteries, there will be a ‘deed of grant’. This will need to be produced to exercise a right of burial for the deceased if there is enough space remaining in that grave or cemetery. If this cannot be produced, we will require an affidavit to be completed before any grave may be opened.
The tenure of the exclusive right of burial may also vary and may have expired. If this is the case, we can discuss the options to renew the lease by the correct person (either the current grave owner or the nearest heir or executor).
If a tenure has expired, the rights revert back to us and any further interments or memorial applications can't be granted without an extension or renewal of the rights of burial.
Like many other councils, particularly in London, we have limited grave space across our sites, with West Norwood fully closed to any new burials. This means that we can't offer pre-purchase of any grave and can only allocate a grave space at the time of burial.
We can't offer any appointments to choose a grave space. However, we will endeavour to assist with specific requests where possible, such as near a relative, but can't guarantee any space or selection until the day of burial.
A grant of exclusive right of burial (also know as a deed) is issued for each purchase, setting out details of the grave owner, the cemetery, burial section, individual grave number and period of grant.
The exclusive rights of burial in a private grave are leased on the basis of a 25, 50 or 75-year duration and are renewable to a maximum of 100 years, but can't be purchased in advance except in the case of burial chambers.
Please inform us when you change address so that we can maintain accurate records and contact you in the future if required. It is the responsibility of the grave owner to inform us of any changes.
Where you are not the grave owner, it is unlawful to open the grave, place a memorial of any kind, or scatter remains upon it without the written consent of the owner.
The possession of the title deed does not, in itself, mean a person has the right of burial in a grave.
If the grave owner is deceased and the rights are current, then a new owner will have to be registered. This should be the executor or nearest surviving relative - a transfer of ownership will need to be completed and witnessed by a solicitor or Commissioner of Oaths.
Grave owners can also choose to transfer rights to a nominated person, and this could be due to moving away from the area. This will also need to be transferred in line with the process described.
We can provide the relevant forms and guide you on this process. There is a fee to transfer the right of burial, which is currently set at £82.
Memorial works can only be carried out with the written consent of the registered owner of the exclusive right of burial. Your stonemason will provide the necessary form for you to sign. All information will be checked prior to issuing a permit for the work.
Each cemetery and some sections will have individual regulations regarding what type of memorial, material, inscription or size is allowed for your grave.
If the mason is not registered with either scheme, or does not follow the approved method, they will not be permitted to work within our cemeteries. We also reserve the right to revoke any permit at any time.
We recommend that you seek quotations from a variety of masons before purchasing a memorial (gravestone or memorial plaque), as this is a lasting memory to your loved one and will be an expensive purchase. You may like to consider insuring your memorial, and your selected mason will be able to advise you on current industry insurance schemes.
Any grave in respect of which the exclusive right of burial has been purchased shall be maintained by the grave owner.
This includes, but is not limited to, the repair of memorials, keeping the grave area free of weeds, and ensuring that any plants, flowers, shrubs or trees are pruned, lopped or cut back as and when required.
No liability whatsoever is accepted by the council for any damage to property arising out of anything existing at the cemetery, or done by the council, its employees, agents or servants, or by any independent contractor at or in connection with the cemetery.