East & West Molesey

A Dictionary of Local History

Rowland G. M. Baker, 1972

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For many centuries the dead of the villages were buried in the parish churchyards. Owing, however, to the enormous influx of population into East Molesey in the period after the opening of the railway in 1849, combined with the modern fashion of marking graves with stone memorials, the small churchyard soon became full. In 1860 the Home Secretary issued an order closing it and prohibiting any further interments except in family vaults. People then had to look elsewhere for burial, either in neighbouring churchyards or at Brookwood Necropolis, both of which could be expensive. Several attempts were made to force the parochial authorities to provide a cemetery, as they were empowered to do under the Burial Act 1852, especially after the West Molesey Vestry refused to allow any East Molesey people to be interred there as their own churchyard was getting full, but all to no avail. The matter was brought to a head when in December 1863 the child of a poor man living in Bell Road died. He could not afford the expense of a funeral at Brookwood nor could he persuade any adjacent parish to accept the body. He was reduced to burying the child in his own back garden. This caused such a scandal that public opinion forced East Molesey to look for a site for a cemetery. Eventually, after many places had been examined and rejected, land at West Molesey was bought and opened for interments in 1866. The land was originally divided between the parishes of St. Mary and St. Paul, each parish electing its own Burial Board. West Molesey was provided with a cemetery between the churchyard and East Molesey cemetery, by the Kingston Rural Sanitary Authority in 1893. After administration of both villages was taken over by the urban district council in 1895 the two were united. Extensions were made to the site in 1888 and 1904.

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