Arnos Vale Cemetery

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Bristol, Arnos Vale Cemetery


Established by Act of Parliament in 1837 and opened in 1839, it fast became Bristol's most fashionable burial place. With an estimated half million burials, space ran out c.1987 and closure was threatened. The crematorium closed in 1998, and the private owners faced huge maintenance bills but minimal income. After long legal battles, Bristol City Council gained ownership in 2003 and a charitable trust was established to maintain and repairs structures which meantime suffered vandalism, theft and decay.

Sliding cast-iron gates are flanked by correct Greek DoricGlossary Term lodges (by Charles Underwood, 1837-8). Within is a circular drive, backed by Arcadian wooded slopes, against which are two derelict mortuary chapels by Underwood - Greek IonicGlossary Term for the Nonconformists, RomanGlossary Term ItalianateGlossary Term for the Anglicans. The latter has a projecting entrance, shallow CorinthianGlossary Term capitals and an arched and pedimented belfryGlossary Term stage.

Some of the best tombs are noted below; undoubtedly the highpoint is the orientalising tomb of Raja Rammohun Roy of 1834-8 Rammohun Roy was a Bengali Hindu, a pioneering cultural, religious and political reformer regarded as the father of the Indian RenaissanceGlossary Term. He formed strong associations in Bristol, died here in 1833 and was buried at the house where he had stayed. In 1843 he was reinterred at Arnos Vale Cemetery. His elaborate tomb was designed in 1842 by William Prinsep, an artist to the East India Company and built by mason John Brown, 1843-4. A striking example of Indian-inspired Victorian architecture, the leafed dome, broad canopy and columns derive from authentic Hindu and Jain forms.

Amongst other tombs are Thomas Gadd Matthews, 1859. Lavish marble sarcophagusGlossary Term on table, by Tyley; Mary Breillat, 1839. The first burial at Arnos Vale. Tall obeliskGlossary Term on plinthGlossary Term; Heber Denty, 1890. Rare oak tomb for a timber merchant; Charles Melsom, 1866. By Tyley; 8m obeliskGlossary Term on scrolled plinthGlossary Term;Thomas Lucas, 1856. By Tyley. Chest tomb in bold GothicGlossary Term style; Tilly c.1860. Two stage octagonal GothicGlossary Term pillarGlossary Term.



Chamber or stage in a tower where bells are hung.


The most slender and ornate of the three main classical orders. It has a basket-shaped capital ornamented with acanthus foliage.


The simplest and plainest of the three main classical orders, featuring a frieze with triglyphs and metopes. A Roman Doric column has a simple round capital with a narrow neck band and a plain or fluted shaft. A Greek Doric column has a thin spreading convex capital and no base to the column.


The style of the Middle Ages from the later 12th century to the Renaissance, with which it co-existed in certain forms into the 17th century. Characterized in its full development by the pointed arch, the rib-vault and an often skeletal masonry structure for churches, combined with large glazed windows. The term was originally associated with the concept of the barbarian Goths as assailants of classical civilization.


One of the orders of classical architecture, distinguished in particular by downward- and inward-curling spirals (called volutes) on the capital of the column.


A style of classical secular architecture at its peak in the early to mid-19th century, derived from the palaces of Renaissance Italy, but often varied by asymmetrical elements.


Lofty pillar of square section, tapering at the top and ending pyramidically.


Free-standing upright member of any section, not conforming to one of the classical orders.


Projecting courses at the foot of a wall or column, generally cut back (chamfered) or moulded at the top.


The revival of classical architecture that began in 15th-century Italy and spread through Western Europe and the Americas in the following two centuries, finding distinctive forms and interpretations in different states and regions. From c. 1830 the Italian version was revived in Britain as a style in its own right (sometimes called Neo-Renaissance or Italianate), i.e. as distinguished from the native Georgian classical tradition.


The architecture of the Roman Empire, to which most of Britain belonged from 43 to c. 410 A.D. Our knowledge of Romano-British architecture depends mostly on archaeological reconstructions from foundations and fragments, though some notable fortifications and other military works survive above ground level in recognizable form.


(lit. flesh-consuming): Coffin of stone or other durable material.