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Reception House, Hammersmith Cemetery

A Grade II Listed Building in Fulham Reach, London

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Latitude: 51.4896 / 51°29'22"N

Longitude: -0.2158 / 0°12'56"W

OS Eastings: 523970

OS Northings: 178245

OS Grid: TQ239782

Mapcode National: GBR BG.XZ6

Mapcode Global: VHGQY.6TSG

Entry Name: Reception House, Hammersmith Cemetery

Listing Date: 21 October 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1436663

Location: Hammersmith and Fulham, London, W6

County: London

District: Hammersmith and Fulham

Electoral Ward/Division: Fulham Reach

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Hammersmith and Fulham

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Alban Fulham

Church of England Diocese: London

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Reception House. Circa 1869, probably by George Saunders (1829/30 - 1907) for the Hammersmith Burial Board.


Reception House. Circa 1869, probably by George Saunders (1829/30 - 1907) for the Hammersmith Burial Board.

MATERIALS: brown stock brick with red brick and Bath stone dressings. Slate roof.

PLAN: single-storey and octagonal in plan.

EXTERIOR: located in the north-east sector of the cemetery, the building sits on a brick plinth with a stone coping. There is a stone stringcourse at cill level and cornice with red brick banding above the plinth and below the cornice. The entrance (in the east elevation) is reached via two stone steps. The original plank double doors with iron strap-hinges are set in a red brick pointed-arch with a stone hood-mould. There are four, high-set, lancet windows with red brick arches, stone cills and cast-iron lattice grilles, set at regular intervals around the building. There are two original, square-section, cast-iron downpipes. The steep-pitched octagonal slate roof has four dormers with wooden louvres and a decorative metal pinnacle.

INTERIOR: stone mortuary slabs on brick supports run round five of the walls. The floor has stone slabs sloping down to a central soakaway. The boarded timber roof structure has metal tie rods radiating from a metal boss. The brickwork is whitewashed.


Hammersmith Cemetery was founded in 1869 by the Hammersmith Burial Board to designs by the local architect, George Saunders (1829/30 - 1907) of 15 Hammersmith Terrace. Saunders designed two Gothic style lodges and two mortuary chapels, one Anglican (demolished in 1953) and one Nonconformist. It seems likely that he also designed the reception house at the same time, although its exact date is currently uncertain. The cemetery became a Garden of Rest in 1951 and is generally known as the Margravine Cemetery.

Reception houses, also known as receiving houses, were introduced as a result of concerns around the implications for public health of C19 burial practices. These were highlighted in 1842 in the ‘Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain’ by the Secretary of the Poor Law Commission, Edwin Chadwick (1800-1890). This was followed in 1843 by ‘A supplementary Report on the Results of a Special Inquiry into the Practice of Interment in Towns’. The report indicated that, due to problems raising money to pay for a funeral, it was often the case that bodies of the poor were stored in their homes, often a single room, for long periods after death. Since at that time undertakers did not provide facilities to store coffins, Chadwick advocated the creation in public cemeteries of ‘Reception Houses for the Dead’ where coffins could be stored away from the home prior to burial.

Reasons for Listing

The reception house at Hammersmith Cemetery, dating from circa 1869 and probably by the designer of the cemetery George Saunders, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: as a rare survival of a short-lived type of cemetery building;
* Architectural interest: for its unusual octagonal plan and roof, complimenting the other Gothic Revival buildings of the cemetery;
* Historic interest: for adding to our understanding of Victorian funeral practices and public health improvements;
* Survival: the building survives particularly well.

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