The Pet Cemetery of Hyde Park

Most people are not aware of Hyde Park’s Pet Cemetery, and of those people I have not heard of one who has been lucky enough to actually make it inside. For nestled within the bushes of Victoria Gate Lodge’s garden on Bayswater Road and behind the fortifying iron gates of the Park’s perimeter, you will find the enchanting and pint-sized Pet Cemetery. It all began totally by accident as a kind favor by the lodge-keeper, Mr. Winbridge, in 1881 and carried on through to 1903, eventually reckoning with over 300 graves.

First came ‘Cherry’, a Maltese Terrier. Cherry belonged to the children of Mr. & Mrs. J Lewis Barned, who resided at 10 Cambridge Square. They frequently visited Hyde Park and made good acquaintance with the Gatekeeper at Victoria Lodge who also sold them lollypops and ginger beer. When Cherry died of old age there was much grievance in the family and they decided to approached Mr. Winbridge and his employer to ask if they could lay Cherry to rest in his back garden, which was seemingly appropriate since they had enjoyed such good times together in the Park. Permission was granted and Cherry was laid to rest in a resplendent ceremony. A tombstone bearing the inscription “Poor Cherry. Died April 28. 1881,” was constructed in his memory. The idea caught on with other locals and very soon it unofficially became a cemetery.

Dogs especially met their end as they were often crushed under the feet of the horses that used the carriageways in the park. Such was the fate for “Poor Prince”, a Yorkshire terrier who belonged to the actress Louisa Fairbrother, wife of HRH Prince George, Duke of Cambridge and resident of number 6, Queen Street, Mayfair. Prince was Louisa’s constant companion but was sadly killed by the wheel of a carriage near Bayswater Gate, and actually died in the Lodge. His gravestone read simply “Poor Little Prince” with no dates. Nonetheless, the incident was recorded in the Dukes diary on the 29th June 1882, making Prince the second dog to be buried there. Another of Mr. Lewis-Barned’s dogs buried there was Kaiser, who died in April, 1886, and a third was Zoe. The tombstone of the later contained the inscription “Alas Poor Zoe. Born October 1st. 1879. Died August 13th. 1892. As deeply mourned as ever dog was mourned, for friendship rare by her adorned”.

Over the following years the Pet Cemetery grew as Mr. Winbridge granted more and more of his garden as a Cemetery. He even took responsibility for the proceedings of the burials when the owners were left too affected by their pet’s death. The cemetery was laid out in neat, uniform rows with the majority of the headstones being of the same design with leaded letters being used to denote the epitaph. Each grave was cordoned off with rope edge tiles allowing the families an area to decorate with flowers.

I’m not really one to question what somebody chooses to call one’s pet, but some of the names are absolutely hilarious. (-’Pupsey’, ‘Scam’, ‘Chin Chin’, ‘Smut’, ‘Drag’, ‘Tally-Ho’, ‘Freeky’, ‘Scum’, ‘Pomme de Terre’, ‘Fattie’, ‘Sir Isaac’, ‘Ruff’ and the slightly worrying ‘Nigger’) However, what really gets to me is the sentiment conveyed. The inscriptions are captivating and display raw emotion from their owners, an etiquette that was unusual and generally not encouraged in the restrained and prudish Victorian era:

“To my dear Moussoo – there are men both good and wise who say that dumb creatures we have cherished here below shall give us kindly greeting when we pass the golden gate”

“Darling Dolly – my sunbeam, my consolation, my joy.”

“To our gentle lovely little Blenheim, Jane – she brought the sunshine into our lives, but she took it away with her.”

“My Ba-ba – never forgotten, never replaced.”

“The very lovable little Yorkshire of Florence G. Vary – these little lives, so short in years are as the flowers that bloom awhile, are gone and we are left in tears. In faith and hope of reunion.”

“Here lie two faithful creatures, Snap and Peter. ‘We are only sleeping master.’ ”

“Memory of Jim – a little dog with a big heart.”

“Wee Bobbit – so lonely without our darling sweetheart”

Time has faded the memory of these devoted pets. Some owe their importance to the role they played in the beginnings of the cemetery, others due to their infamous owners. Some like ‘Topper’, a disreputable fox terrier, who belonged to the Hyde Park Police Station and worked the park. He would turn out with them on inspection and was frequently sent down for punishment on account of his disgraceful habits! Topper eventually died of old age on 9th June 1893. The majority, however, were simply loyal and affectionate companions and loyal friends of the prominent society who lived on the fringes of the park.

You can yourself either peek through the park fence or get a lofty view from the top of a double-decker bus when you’re nearing Lancaster Gate tube station. But, blink and you’ll miss it entirely.

Today the cemetery is managed by the Royal Parks.

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NEXT WEEK’S LONDON INSIGHT:

Getting sentimental on old trains in the disused Aldwych Station

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About londoninsight

A compassionate photographer working to better her understanding of her town, her village, London.
This entry was posted in Animals, Cemeteries, Death, Parks and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to The Pet Cemetery of Hyde Park

  1. Many thanks for this excellent piece. As an owner of a pet cemetery in Sussex I was aware of this one in Hyde Park. You have presented it beautifully. We are seeing more and more facilities for pets opening up and many seem to be competing with each other to be as American as possible with masses of bling. It is refreshing to have a reminder of the simple way in which the memories of our pets can be immortalised and the obvious comfort it gave those owners. A very British cemetery. I will add this link to my blog and facebook page. I am sure it will give a great deal of pleasure to people. Thanks again.

  2. Laura Edgecumbe-Ansdell says:

    Beautiful. Made me cry. Any rabbits?

  3. Sam says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post – a gem of a little London oddity. It made me smile to think of these Victorians calling out their dogs names…

  4. superheidi says:

    Oh, such a delight to have found this post on your blog! Last weekend I found an old photograph postcard of the Pet Cemetery. I never knew about its existence and nothing about the history of pet cemeteries but this postcard got me searching a bit online. Wow, I wonder how you managed to get inside? Probably a chef’s’ secret? I will do a quick post with the postcard on my blog and link this wonderful post if that’s all right.
    Will stroll around your blog, it seems excellent!

  5. Pingback: Pet Cemetery in London’s Hyde Park (8 pics) | Stewpig.com | Entertaining the world EVERYDAY.

  6. Jean Reddish says:

    In 1957 I was given a book called “Look! Here’s London”, about the trip of a 10 year old girl with her mother and uncle to London just before the war. One of the places she visited was the pet cemetery, and I am delighted to find more about it here. I still have the book.

  7. Touching part of history…

  8. Pingback: The Yorkshire Terrier, the Prince and the Showgirl « London Historians' Blog

  9. Mandy says:

    Wonderful to be able to google Pet Cemetary – Hyde Park and find that it really does exist. Spent a number of hours searching for where I thought it should be but with no success. Might go on another mission and see if I can get a peek. Love the idea that pets were so highly thought of all those years ago.

  10. I think this must be one THEE MOST BEAUTIFUL BLOGS EVER! Thanks so much. If you watch a very FABULOUS and rare Peter Sellers film called “The Optimists of Nine Elms or just ‘The Optimists’” you will get lots of great footage (day and night) of the Pet cemetery. It also shows a London that is almost no more. When the working class and poor were working and ate home cooked food around a dinner table. English industry was in England and people came to live in the UK and blend in to make the country better not exist isolated in pockets of separation. Indigenous buskers were all about..where are they now? Dog lovers will love this film-BIG TIME. The film is astonishing and so are your photos. Thank you, thank you!

    PS: A few great places you may want to cover (I’m sure you get this often) Hackney City Farm, Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood and Columbia Road Flower Market.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. I had such joy doing this story. Will definitely try and get hold of ‘The Optimists’ and yes, your recommendations are already on my enormous list of hidden nooks to discover. The joy of London is that there is simply too much to see.

  11. Technomad says:

    I saw it when I was last in London (1988) but didn’t know the story of it, or how big it really was—I only got to see it from the sidewalk nearby.

    People have always loved their animal companions.

  12. hobby says:

    It’s hard to come by knowledgeable people in this particular topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  13. David Bushby says:

    Facinating. A while ago I visited the Pet Cemetery at Molesworth (Cambridgeshire), which seems to have started when the Hyde Park one closed. It is at the end of someone’s garden and in a very derelict state, but very interesting none-the-less, especially some of the inscriptions.

  14. Mary says:

    Great pictures of a very pet-historic place! The dog cemetery in Hyde Park is in fact the first planned pet cemetery for the public of its kind, and was a formative role model in the creation of America’s first pet cemetery in New York in 1896 (and followed by tthe creation of one outside of Paris in 1897). The one in NY is in full operation to this day, with 7,000 headstones and counting.

  15. mick greenwood says:

    What a lovely article! I’ve known about the cemetery for a while but never heard these stories. Great stuff!

  16. Lou Bradley says:

    How beautiful a place. We have all our animals in our garden but have to move soon and will have to leave them behind :(. Wish we could have a beautiful place like this near us

  17. Pingback: Guia de viagem: Hyde Park « VEJA na Olimpíada – VEJA.com

  18. Teresa Stokes says:

    Wonderful! I live near the place and can only peep at it through the railings; I found your page just now when searching to find out a bit more about it. Do not read this blog if you have just lost a pet, or it will break your heart!

  19. Chris Smith says:

    A lovely article about the hidden cemetary. I must have walked past over 100 times and never knew it was there. I love the sentiments left by the owners as i can relate to how they feel. I expect a lot of the owners have themselves passed on now and the graves are unattended. It would be lovely if a few people were allowed to gain access and restore the area to its original beauty.

  20. Wow! How on earth did you get such great photo’s? Were you granted access or did you sneak in? I sneaked in one dark night and couldn’t read names but what really doesn’t come across in photo’s is just how cute and tiny the little headstones are! You feel like a giant walking around there :-)
    Great blog, thanks so much for sharing such a wonderful story and such superb photographs.

    Just as an added interest, I have a headstone here at home I bought from Camden Market some years ago. It reads “To My Beloved Little Sealyham ‘Julie’ – Died March 26 1952 – Aged 5 years – Forever In My Heart” with the name ‘Olive E Green’ just underneath. Tis so sweet.

  21. Pingback: Dog Days | Lichfield Lore

  22. Pingback: Bicycle Tag of bike - Page 264 - London Fixed-gear and Single-speed

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