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Mortlake Crematorium, Richmond upon Thames

Description: Mortlake Crematorium

Grade: II
Date Listed: 5 May 2011
English Heritage Building ID: 1400834

OS Grid Reference: TQ2001476278
OS Grid Coordinates: 520011, 176278
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4727, -0.2735

Locality: Richmond upon Thames
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: SW14 7QU

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Listing Text


Crematorium. 1938-39 by F. Douglas Barton, MICE MRSI.

Reason for Listing

Mortlake Crematorium is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* A well-executed and characterful variation on the classic crematorium design
* Pleasing elevations with arcaded cloisters
* Good quality detailing
* Interesting plan form
* Very little altered since it opened in 1939


Cremation was legalised in England in the mid-1880s, but it was not until the inter-war period that municipal authorities, charged with the disposal of the dead, began to erect crematoria in any numbers. Mortlake Crematorium was a joint municipal venture, undertaken by the boroughs of Hammersmith, Richmond, Barnes and Acton, and set up under an Act of 1936. Designed by F. Douglas Barton, borough surveyor to Hammersmith, it was opened in January 1939 by the most prominent doctor of the day, Lord Horder. The foundation stone was laid by the Bishop of Southwark; the building was opened by Lord Horder, physician to the king on 25th January 1939.The first committal took place on the following day. It was built on land contiguous with Mortlake Cemetery, but is separately administered. Constructed in red brick with a tiled roof, the building is an Art Deco variant on the design of the most famous crematorium in the country: that at Golders Green. The arcaded cloisters, the Lombardic style, the tall ventilation shaft in the form of a tower: all are duplicated in Barton's design, albeit on a reduced scale. The planning of the crematorium is fairly conventional, with reception rooms flanking the central entrance which leads straight into the chapel. Behind this is the business end of the complex, with the oven room situated directly behind the catafalque. Once the ashes have been ground and placed in urns, they are handed over to mourners: the cloisters contain many wall monuments, and the rose garden beyond is the final destination for many of the cremations.


Crematorium. 1938-39 by F. Douglas Barton, MICE MRSI. Brown-red brick, metal windows and grilles, tiled roofs.

PLAN: centrally planned, with an axial chapel with oven chamber behind, flanked to the front by offices and reception rooms; behind are cloistered walks. A tower is attached to the south-east of the central range.

EXTERIOR: entrance front with projecting porte cochere with arched openings; tall stone-framed side lights; side ranges with mullioned five-light windows; arched openings to either side beyond. The main central section containing the chapel is stepped up in stages, with pedimented gable ends to each section. The ventilation shaft is housed in the square, two-stage tower which is capped by a hipped roof. The side elevations of the chapel have tall arched windows with buttresses between. The sides and rear of the crematorium are fronted with arcaded walkways, within which are memorial-lined walls, the memorials in the form of regular grey stone inscription plaques.

INTERIOR: the side walls of the entrance vestibules sport inscription plaques referring to the opening of the crematorium. Remembrance book rooms flank the entrance; to the east is a waiting room, and to the west is an office. The reception rooms are plain, and the interest is concentrated within the barrel-vaulted chapel. The catafalque (the upper parts of which are of fairly recent date) has decorative marble facing to the base: it is set within an arched recess, the main order of which has feather ornament; there are arched windows to the sides. Arched doorways flank this recess: these, like the dado, are faced in grey marble. The entrance, northern, end of the chapel has a triple-arched glazed screen, with pilasters flanking the central door: above is an oak-faced gallery.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: In the rose garden to the south are matching brick and tile benches. The entrance gates to the north-west are in a matching style also.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.