Appeals: The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery

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The Independent Online
The Dissenters' Chapel, Kensal Green Cemetery, in central London, a grade II* listed building in acute need of repair which the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery intend to undertake. Their programme also includes restoring the similarly listed Anglican Chapel, re-landscaping the cemetery grounds and repairing the boundary wall and railings. The group estimates that it needs to raise a further pounds 200,000 - to add to pounds 300,000 promised - to complete the work.

Kensal Green cemetery opened in 1833, having been established by an Act of Parliament the previous year as London's first metropolitan cemetery. It covers 77 acres south of Harrow Road and west of Ladbroke Grove; and it is still owned by the General Cemetery Company. Modelled on the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, its paths and planting designs are similar to that of Regent's Park, in London. The catacombs, chapels and gateways were originally designed in Gothic style but the financial backer of the cemetery company preferred classical architecture. Those buried at Kensal Green include William Makepeace Thackeray, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Terence Rattigan and Madame Vestris, the actress and theatre manager.

The Dissenters' Chapel - which is close to the Grand Union Canal, along the cemetery's southern boundary - will need extensive restoration and a complete rebuilding of its flanking curved colonnades, demolished 20 years ago. There are plans to make the building a visitor centre, lecture hall, exhibition space and amenity for Friends and local residents. The cemetery is open most days and the Anglican Chapel is open from 10am to 2pm each weekday; teams of volunteer Friends give guided tours of the graves every weekend. For further information, contact: The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery, 8 Kensington Gate, London W8 5NA, telephone 071-584 6072.

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