Kensal Green Cemetery opened in 1833 and was the frst commercial cemetery in London. The need for large cemeteries in London was stimulated by the increase in population and the inadequate space provided by existing cemeteries and churchyards.
Campaigners for burial reform and public opinion considered the best solution would be “detached cemeteries for the metropolis”, and in 1832 Parliament passed a bill that incorporated the General Cemetery Company “for the Interment of the Dead”. (Source:The Penny Magazine, August 1834).
The General Cemetery Company had purchased land for the cemetery in 1831 and promoted a competition for the design of a new Cemetery at Kensal Green. The brief included two chapels with catacombs, entrance gateway with lodges and a landscaped layout for monuments. There were 46 entrants, and the winner was Henry Edward Kendall (1776- 1875) for his designs for buildings in the Gothic style which can be seen in his perspective drawing in the RIBA Architectural Library.
However, the Chairman of the General Cemetery Company, preferred a neo-classical design of building and persuaded the Surveyor to the Company, John Griffith, to draw up~ new designs in the Greek Revival Style. It was Griffith’s designs which were eventually built.
The Cemetery was divided into the consecrated Anglican section and an unconsecrated one for Dissenters. The chapels in the neo-classical style used the Doric order for the Anglicans and Ionic for the nonconformists.