Famous names whose final stop was Golders Green crematorium
Tuesday 16 March 2010
Golders Green Crematorium has been the final destination for an amazing list of the talented and famous. It is one of the best known crematoria in the world, and the oldest in London, having been opened in 1902, 17 years after cremation was legalised in Britain.
Though it is located by a Jewish cemetery, it is secular, so the type of service of remembrance and music played are entirely up to the relatives and friends of the deceased.
Michael Foot is not the first in his illustrious family to be interred there. His nephew, the radical journalist Paul Foot, drew a crowd that stretched almost the entire length of Hoop Lane at his funeral in 2004.
Others whose ashes are kept there include Sigmund Freud and several other members of the Freud family, Bram Stoker, the writer who created Dracula, Lionel Bart, who composed Oliver!, the novelist Kingsley Amis, the harmonica player Larry Adler, and the playwright Joe Orton.
There is also Ronnie Scott, founder of London's best-known jazz club, and the jazz musician Ray Ellington, and comedians Peter Sellers, Joyce Grenfell, Irene Handl, Bud Flanagan, Tommy Handley, Sid James, Jimmy Jewel and Bernie Winters.
Each year, on 16 September, a little group of fans gather around the gravestone of Marc Bolan, former singer of T Rex, to mark the anniversary of his death in a road accident in 1977. His memorial plaque is alongside that of Keith Moon, ex-drummer of The Who, who died in 1978 from an overdose of sedatives.
Other luminaries have been cremated here, but had their ashes moved to different locations, including the last two pre-war prime ministers, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain, and the first post-war foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, the poets TS Eliot and Rudyard Kipling, and the writers Henry James and HG Wells.
The crematorium is a place where atheists can be laid to rest, which helps to explain the presence of a "communist corner" in its gardens, where the ashes of numerous ex-communists are held. The first Soviet ambassador, Leonid Krasin, one of the founding fathers of Bolshevism, was cremated here after he died in 1926 from a blood disease.
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