Surrey Churches Index

A guide to Churches and Graveyards in Surrey for family historians

Woking Crematorium

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image of crematorium
copyright Jack1956 [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons"

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Woking cemetery is located in the ecclesiastical parishan ecclesiastical parish is an administrative area within the Church of England or Roman Catholic church. It is distinct from the civil parish, a local government unit in England of Woking St. John the Baptist which was itself created from the Ancient Parishan Ancient Parish is a Church of England parish which, until the 19th century, had both ecclesiastical and civil functions of Woking St. Peter.

Friends of Surrey Cemeteries (Surrey Cemeteries: a survey, 2012):

Hermitage Road A324, St John’s Woking GU21 1TJ. Opened 1885, area of 11.1 acres. Crematorium and chapel, lodge and offices. The London Cremation Company PLC. 01483 472 197.

The Cremation Society of England was formed on 13th Jan 1874 largely due to efforts of Sir Henry Thompson Bart (1820-1904). 14 initial members. An acre of land purchased at Woking from the LNC by Sir Henry in 1878. Furnace construction supervised by Professor Gorini, Italian specialist. Home Office intervened and threatened legal action unless Sir Henry agreed not to cremate a human body without prior approval. This he reluctantly gave. Within 12 months the BMA petitioned Home Secretary to legalise cremation but to no avail. In 1882 Captain Hanham of Dorset requested cremation at Woking for two relatives. Home Secretary refused so Hanham built crematorium on his own estate and went ahead. He was also cremated there in 1883. Then the Welsh cremation in Feb 1884 brought a legal judgement that cremation was not illegal.

First crematorium in the country founded 1879. First cremation 26 Mar 1885 – Mrs Pickersgill of Clarence Gate, two further cremations that year, 10 in 1886, 13 in 1887, 28 in 1888, 46 in 1889, 54 in 1890, 99 in 1891, 104 in 1892, 101 in 1893, 125 in 1894, 150 in 1895, 137 in 1896, 173 in 1897, 240 in 1898, 240 in 1899, 301 in 1900, 273 in 1901, 275 in 1902, 143 in 1903, 138 in 1904, 95 in 1905, 140 in 1906, 108 in 1907, 119 in 1908 and 105 in 1909. The fall off in 1903 reflected the opening of Golders Green. The LNC represented a rapidly growing proportion of burials from 1890 due to its preferential rail rates. One hundred cremations carried out by 1888 so a chapel and waiting rooms were built after an appeal for £5000 - £4100 given by Duke of Bedford – designed by Edward F C Clarke (chapel, lavatories, crematory, private crematory for duke of Bedford + entrance lodge). In 1907 a founder of the Cremation Society, Rose Mary Crawshay paid for the catafalque. In 1911 site extended in memory of Sir Henry to include a ten acre woodland garden.

Also in 1911 Duke of Bedford paid for new chapel at Golders Green and his crematory converted to columbarium for 600 urns (enlarged to 1,500 in 1920s). In 1922 a gallery containing an organ + wooden pews added. By 1900 1,824 cremations had been carried out at Woking. By 1950 some 23,663 cremations. In 1932 ownership transferred from the Cremation Society to the London Cremation Company which also owned Golders Green. 1934 first open air cremation took place in the grounds, others in 1935 and 1937. 2,200 cremations in 1954. Feature of a small cemetery on site used 1890 to the 1920s with several hundred miniature memorials – all cleaned in 2004. By 2003 139,188 cremations had taken place here.

Visited 2000 - Chapel attractive area with a number of plaques on the walls. Grounds more extensive than at first sight. Smallish parking area. Burial and scattering areas on south side of site away from the road.

The crematorium is in St. Johns village in the Woking district of Surrey.

Unless otherwise stated the dates for the creation of parishes are taken from Youngs, Frederick. A., jr.. Guide to the Administrative Units of England; Royal Historical Society: London, 1979 volume 1 Southern England.

The Woking Index will show you all the churches and cemeteries we know of in the Woking District. If we have missed any or you are looking for a church or graveyard that might no longer exist do please let us know using the email at the bottom of this page

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Page last updated: 1 March 2023
next review March 2026

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