Lesser known than some of London's other "Magnificent Seven" Victorian era park-cemeteries, West Norwood holds some of the city's most beautiful memorial monuments and some of its oldest trees.
Once also known as the South Metropolitan Cemetery, the Gothic Revival burial ground is now part of English Heritage's National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. The cemetery was built in 1832-41 during the establishment of new park-like burial grounds outside of the city limits. The site selected had once been the Great North Forest, by this time with only a few trees standing. Some of these ancient trees were left standing in the new cemetery, and have recently been dated back as far as the 16th century.
Comprised of Kensal Green, Highgate, West Norwood, Abney Park, Nunhead, Brompton and Tower Hamlets cemeteries, the Magnificent Seven were created in 1832 as part of an effort to move burials out of the City of London in response to the twin pressures of health concerns about overcrowded church yard cemeteries and desires for buildable land in the rapidly expanding city.
Like many of the city's other cemeteries it was damaged by bombings during WWII, causing the destruction of the former Dissenter's chapel and damage to other buildings and monuments. Today, ongoing restoration and stewardship work is overseen by Lambeth Council and is largely advised by the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery, who also host regular tours of the cemetery.