26 August 2016

Hove Cemetery

Judy Middleton 2002 (revised 2023)

 copyright © J.Middleton
This beautiful memorial marks the resting place of Walter Albert Beresford who died in the 1930s.

More Burial Space Needed

In 1860 an extended portion of the churchyard surrounding St Andrew’s Old Church was consecrated.

But Hove Commissioners soon realised that with Hove’s growing population an additional burial ground would have to be found. The favoured spot was 25 acres in Aldrington south of what later came to be called Old Shoreham Road. The deal was supposedly struck in 1878 but then a legal hitch became apparent. In September 1879 it was stated that the Dyke Railway Company possessed certain powers over the land and that had to be sorted out before the purchase could be completed. Events moved fast in those days and by the following month the rights issue had been resolved and an agreement with the owners of the Aldrington Estate had been reached. The land was sold for £350 an acre and the final total was £8,750.

While negotiations were in progress, the Hardwick family of Hangleton continued to farm the land. Accounts for October 1880 show that £70 was paid to the executors of the late Alfred Hardwick for clearing and cultivating the land.


 copyright © J.Middleton
E.B. Ellice Clark designed the chapels.

On 24 April 1880 the Bishop of Chichester wrote that he approved of the design for the cemetery chapel subject to a few alterations. In fact there are two chapels – the south chapel was consecrated but the north chapel was not. But the chapels both had the same dimensions; they were 36 feet in length, clear of the apse, and eighteen feet wide. Internally, they were built with specially designed Chelmsford bricks while the exterior walls were made of hill flints set in cement. A special feature were cavity walls designed to overcome the exposed nature of the site.

 copyright © J.Middleton
One cannot miss a tall feature like the Brounlie monument.

The Brounlie Monument is a striking feature. It could also serve as a symbolic reminder of the price paid for developing British interests abroad because these Brounlies met their deaths in far-flung places.

John Brounlie was working as an engineer to the China Railway when he died at Shanghai on 22 July 1887. Presumably his body was repatriated because the inscription states he was interred on 12 December 1887.

Charles Arthur Brounlie was born at Liverpool, and later worked for the London and River Plate Bank. He died on 7 March 1903 at Buenos Aires, and was buried there.

Alexander Brounlie was only aged 35 when he died on 27 May 1906 at Punta Arenas, Terra del Fuego, and he was also buried there.

But the longest inscription relates to Lieutenant Louis Kossuth Brounlie who was killed on 3 July 1900 in the attack on Kokofu during the relief of the Kumasi / Ashanti expedition on the west coast of Africa. There is an extract from the letter sent by his commanding officer who wrote ‘he was one of the most popular officers with the Ashanti Field Force.’ Brounlie had used his own field dressing on a comrade not long before he was shot through the heart.

It seems the only Brounlie to die peacefully in his bed was Charles de Bels Brounlie, Knight Commander Crown of Italy, who died aged 96 at Bournemouth on 24 July 1921.


The Hove authorities saw no reason to engage a well-known architect for the project and it was designed in-house, as it were. Mr E.B. Ellice Clark was surveyor to the Hove Commissioners and he designed the chapels in 13th century style. It was not his fault that his original design for the central tower did not leave the drawing board but rather the Commissioners wishing to cut costs because it would have cost an extra £300.

The reporter from the Sussex Daily News was somewhat scathing about the completed buildings.

‘The spire over the central archway is not at all handsome and the central tower originally designed by Mr Ellice Clark … would certainly have been more in keeping with the chapels.’

Over the central arch was the inscription All that are in the graves shall hear the voice of God and come forth.

In June 1908 Mrs F.C. Oliver requested permission to place a stained glass window in the south east corner of the south chapel in memory of her son who was buried in the cemetery.


It is not surprising to learn that the contract to build the chapels went to James Longley who produced the lowest tender of £2,977.

The other ten tenders were as follows:

J. Anscombe £4,320
W.H. Webber £4,140
J.T. Chappell £3,990
Cheesman & Co £3,965
William Botting & Co £3,850
Parsons & Sons £3,822
John Bruton £3,675
J.G.B. Marshall £3,500
Ambrose Oliver £3-460
John Tyerman £3,322

Out of these building firms, J.T. Chappell was very well known locally with an address in Pimlico too. The firm built Hove Hospital, Hove Town Hall, Connaught Road Schools, Davigdor Road Schools, St Catherine’s Lodge and some houses in King’s Gardens.

George Cheesman built houses in Adelaide Crescent and Brunswick Square while Cheesman & Co built houses in Seafield Road, Denmark Villas and Wilbury Road. They also did some work in Hove Cemetery in 1881.

J. Parsons & Sons was the oldest building firm in Hove, having been established in 1835. Their premises were in Church Road next door to where Hove Library was built in 1908. They were engaged in countless projects in Hove, particularly with regard to Street works, sewerage works plus groynes and esplanade.

Mr Marshall did not lose out entirely because he was chosen to build the Cemetery Lodge, walls and fences at a cost of £2,450. The wall on the north side was built of picked flints with red brick piers 12 feet apart and is in a fine state of preservation today


  copyright © Robert Jeeves
Canon Peacey was vicar of Hove for 30 years and when he died his family received a message of sympathy from Edward VII, the two having met on one of the king’s visits to Hove. This photograph of his funeral held in April 1909 shows Hove Cemetery looking somewhat bleak without the mature trees we are accustomed to.

Orders were placed for the purchase of trees including the following:

300 sycamores for £7-10s from Wood & Son
300 poplars for £3-9-2d from J. Wollard
Some elm and oak for £15-3-6d from Cripps & Son
One dozen poplars from for 2/- from W. Knight

In 1890 some weeping elms were ordered from Balchin & Sons for 10/-.

In September 1893 the surveyor submitted plans for making paths in the undeveloped part of the cemetery and to continue with the belt of trees along the south and west parts. Surplus chalk, which accumulated from time to time, would be put on the railway embankment.

At some stage a number of pine trees were planted and became an attractive feature of the grounds. In 1979 a huge flock of starlings settled in the pine trees and Hove Council borrowed a bird-scarer from Brighton Council to drive them away before too much damage was done. But the starlings returned in 1980 and refused to be frightened away. By March their droppings were several inches thick over trees, paths and grass while some memorial inscriptions were obliterated. Mark Bolton, cemetery superintendent, expressed his concern for the health of the trees and potential victims because an abnormal number of branches were just dropping off. Indeed, several trees died and had to be felled.

   copyright © J.Middleton
A lonesome pine. The broken column is not the result of damage but is an artistic representation of a life cut short.

During the Great Gale of October 1987 the number of trees that keeled over in the cemeteries run by Hove Council was put at 46.


At first only 12 acres were laid out and of this area 8 acres were consecrated on 27 May 1882. The rest of the land was used to produce crops of hay.

Hove Commissioners had already decided how they wished the cemetery to look and on 20 March 1882 decided that no wooden monuments would be permitted; neither would benders. The latter were iron hoops covering the grave that harked back to the days when body snatchers could earn good money by digging up the newly deceased and taking the body to trainee doctors to perfect their knowledge of anatomy and dissection. You can still see one example in the churchyard of St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove.

copyright © J.Middleton
Frederick Tooth was the first person
 to be buried in Hove Cemetery.
In February 1893 Hove Commissioners gracefully allowed that crosses or wreaths of flowers, natural or artificial, enclosed in a glass dome or not, would be allowed.

In June 1910 it was stipulated that no trellis-work wire arches would be permitted and those already in place would have to be taken down.

Frederick Tooth was the first person to be buried in Hove Cemetery on 15 January 1882. His monument takes the shape of a large, plain cross in rose marble and it is still in remarkably good shape, although some of the lettering is beginning to go. Indeed it has fared better than many more recent memorials. But then he could afford the best work. In the 1860s he purchased some land in Hove for £11,300 – a considerable sum. It comprised land on which St Aubyns was later built and stretched from the churchyard wall (in those days further south than it is today) to the seashore. He undertook to protect his valuable land from the ravages of the sea by building his own sea wall south of Sussex Road called Tooth’s Wall. Tooth was a Hove Commissioner, a Shoreham Harbour Trustee and a member of the firm Tooth & Co, timber merchants of Church Street, Brighton and Baltic Wharf, Shoreham Harbour.

The Burial Books reveal the high mortality rate amongst children in the early 1880s. Out of the first 40 entries, fifteen were for children.

Henry Porter in his History of Hove (1897) wrote about Hove Cemetery ‘the grounds are tastefully disposed, and kept in very excellent condition.’

 copyright © J.Middleton
This old view shows Hove Cemetery in the days when there was still plenty of space. Frederick Tooth’s memorial is to the left of the male figure. One wonders just how many people felt moved to buy a postcard with such a solemn scene.


 copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
The Bishop of Lewes officiated at the consecration of the extension in June 1912. He can be seen in the background wearing his surplice and an antiquated piece of clerical headgear known as the Canterbury cap.

In 1912 3 acres, 3 roods and 17 poles of land lying west of the chapels were consecrated. The Right Reverend Leonard Hedley Burrows officiated at the consecration ceremony in June of that year. He was vicar of Hove and Bishop of Lewes from 1909 to 1914 and was a popular figure in the area. His son 2nd Lieutenant Leonard Righton Burrows was later killed in action on 2 October 1915.

During the consecration ceremony, a circuit of the ground was made, psalms were sung and the service concluded with Oh God Our Help in Ages Past. The combined choirs of All Saints, St Patrick’s, and St Andrew’s Old Church led the singing. There was an impressive turnout of dignitaries including the Mayor of Hove, Alderman Barnett Marks, his mace-bearer Mr Fox, Mr Endacott (town clerk) and Mr Lister (Hove Librarian).

Afterwards the company adjourned to Hove Town Hall where tea was served in the banqueting room.

 copyright © J.Middleton
This view of the main avenue looks east; note the glimmer of light on the angel’s wings at the left.

Further Extension

In 1922 Hove Council discussed buying additional land to enlarge the cemetery. There was a small piece of land of around 6 acres between the east end of the cemetery and the Dyke Railway but in 1907 the price was £800 an acre. Although the price dropped to £560 an acre, the Council still considered it prohibitive. There was also the question of some of the land being within 100 yards of existing houses that meant no grave might be dug without the house owner’s permission.

Other land under consideration was just over 13 acres on the west side belonging to the Duke of Portland who was willing to sell for £4,250 or £315 an acre. But the Council decided that this was prime building land.

Instead it was decided to purchase some sloping land on the north side of Old Shoreham Road. Thus it was that in 1923 Hove Cemetery was enlarged by 20 acres, 3 roods and 15 poles. The land was purchased from the Sackville Estate for £300 an acre. The total cost, including legal fees and stamp duty, came to £6,450.

In 1955 Hove Council purchased 30 acres of woodland at Stonestaples Wood near Poynings for use when Hove Cemetery was full, although the site was 7 miles distant from Hove.

In 1955 it was expected that Hove Cemetery would soon be full. But in 1974 it was stated the increase in cremations had extended the life of Hove Cemetery by at least 30 years.

Cemetery Staff

 copyright © J.Middleton
The figure on the left at the north side of the main avenue remembers Betty Louise Thompson who died 11 February 1934. The cross with the entwined flowers and dove at the top commemorates Charlie Martin who died 3 September 1934.

In 1888 Mr Stanbury resigned his post as Superintendent of Hove Cemetery. John George Hills of Sevenoaks in Kent was appointed in his place and started work on 8 November 1888. His weekly wage was around 35/- but his perks included residence in the Lodge with its own garden plus free fuel. In 1891 his wages were increased by 3/- a week.
 copyright © J.Middleton
This most unusual cross is situated just behind
Frederick Tooth’s memorial and was erected
to the memory of Lucia, beloved wife of
W.C. Blatspiel Stamp,
who died 24 November 1883.

In October 1893 he asked permission to reside away from the Lodge because of his wife’s illness. Her medical attendant had advised that she should live in a warm and sheltered place during the winter months; permission was granted.

In 1899 an extension was built at the south west corner of the Lodge, which created an extra room upstairs as well as downstairs.

In 1902 Mr Hills requested a pay rise. He stated he had held the post for fourteen years but his last pay rise had been in 1892. His wages were increased to a magnificent £2 a week.

In 1917 it was a similar story because Mr Hills had to remind Hove Council he had not had a pay rise in ten years; they duly awarded him 5/- extra a week.

In 1926 Mr Hills was aged 72 and he requested permission to retire on a pension; he was also suffering from a broken femur; his request was granted.

Frederick Richard George from London was his replacement and his wages were £408 a year.

In February 1892 R. Packham and R. Robinson, labourers, were awarded a pay rise. They had been earning one guinea a week (21/-) and this was raised to £1-2-6d. In 1897 an additional labourer was to be employed but he was not to earn more than one guinea a week. Gardener Barker was better off because he earned 32/6d a week.

In December 1916 Hove Council was notified that Private R. Emsley, one of the cemetery workers, had been awarded a Bar to the Military Medal he had already won for conspicuous gallantry and untiring devotion to duty at the Schwaben Redoubt on 21 October 1916. Emsley was a stretcher-bearer with the Royal Sussex Regiment. He survived the war and returned home with the rank of Lance-Corporal.

By 1927 the staff employed at the cemetery consisted of the Superintendent, an assistant supervisor, a clerk plus fourteen men who were either gardeners or grave-diggers.

On 14 June 1998 a 50-minute documentary was broadcast on BBC’s Everyman series entitled Death in Brighton. Among those featured were Hove grave-diggers Fred O’Grady and Julian Becher who have worked together for 30 years. Julian’s tall figure was shown digging a grave while his wife brought his some sandwiches.

Opening Hours

By 1889 Hove cemetery was open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the summer and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the winter. On Sundays the gates were not open until 10 a.m.  

The early regulations stipulated that burials must take place at 3.30 p.m. in consecrated ground and at 2.30 p.m. in un-consecrated grounds. Revd A.D. Spong complained about the inconvenience caused when two funerals were fixed for the same time. Councillors agreed to waive the rules if friends provided their own minister.

In February 1916 further concessions were granted because of the war and after representations from Attree & Kent ‘on behalf of the Undertaking Trade’ funerals were permitted between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on three days a week.

In 1904 a notice was erected at the cemetery gates requesting car drivers not to bring their vehicles into the grounds. In April 1913 this rule was rescinded because of the ‘probability of motor hearses being brought into use’. But vehicles would have to proceed at a walking pace.

 copyright © J.Middleton
This must be the most comfortable-looking monument in Hove Cemetery. William Smith strikes a patrician pose as he enjoys a long sleep.


In 1908 ladies were provided with a public convenience inside the grounds while gentlemen had to wait for their own establishment until 1915.

Unique Circumstances

At noon on 22 July 1938 a rather extraordinary burial took place. The lady in question, Mrs Florence Matilda Greatorex Ward of Birchington, Kent had actually died on 21 April 1938. She had been rather eccentric and lived a secluded life with her daughters Beatrice and Gertrude. They would only communicate with the outside world by means of conversations conducted through the letter-box. Mrs Ward had expressed a wish not to be buried and so her dutiful daughters kept her body at home. But Mrs Ward did say that if she had to be buried it must be near the grave of a Brighton physician she had once known who was buried in Hove Cemetery in 1925.

Mrs Ward did not leave a will and letters of administration were sought in order to share £26,000 between the daughters.  

Imperial War Graves Commission

 copyright © J.Middleton
Graves from the Great War are in a tranquil setting.

The Imperial War Graves Commission was established in 1917 to care for all graves of men of the Imperial forces who died from wounds, accidents or disease. The cut-off date was 31 August 1921. This meant that those who died from war wounds or the effects of gassing after this date were not officially recognised as war casualties.
  copyright © J.Middleton
This is one of the larger stones amongst 
the standard official war graves.

In October 1922 it was stated that the Imperial War Graves Commission proposed to enclose the site of the Great War graves in Hove Cemetery with a holly hedge and to erect in the recess of the hedge a Portland stone cross with inset bronze sword facing the graves.

In the event the original war grave design was impossible to execute because of more interments. The scheme was amended and the cross was placed on the north west side within a circular recess cut in the embankment of the main avenue leading from the Lodge to the chapels.

In 1925 there were two temporary buildings sited around 280 yards west of the cemetery. The Imperial War Graves Commission used them as workshops for the men working on the gravestones.

Relatives of the fallen could have the standard white headstone engraved with a regimental badge and a brief inscription of their choice. But sometimes families wanted to have a more elaborate headstone and this was permitted at Hove. It also meant that in at least one case the grieving parents were buried in the same plot. This differs from British War Cemeteries abroad that all have the same headstone and the regimented lines of white headstones create a powerful image. The difference being that those abroad were likely to have been killed in action while those buried at Hove were more likely to have died from disease, accidents or as the result of war wounds and gassing.

Some families did not want their soldier son to be buried in the official war graves section but preferred another part of the cemetery close to where other family members were buried. One such case was Private Albert Edward Wheeler of the Middlesex Regiment who saw a great deal of action on the Western Front. He was discharged as medically unfit in October 1917 and died at home less than two months later. He has the standard white, military headstone but is buried in the far south west part. Unfortunately, the remoteness from the official site means his stone has not been kept cleaned to the high standards that are followed for the rest.

copyright © J.Middleton

Second World War

On 26 September 1940 two high-explosive bombs fell on the cemetery and Olive Road but fortunately no damage was recorded.

The graves of those who died as the result of the Second World War are mostly gathered in a special section on the east side of Hove Cemetery that lies north of Old Shoreham Road.

There are 37 official War Graves Commission white stones with 38 inscriptions (one stone is shared between father and son). There is a large white cross with inset bronze sword like the one in the south side.

In 1979 the graves were in an enclosure with pink cherry trees at the back. By 1999 the wall and cherry trees had gone and the site was more open to allow for easier maintenance but there were red rose bushes on the graves. Today there are cherry trees once more.

copyright © J.Middleton

North Side

Some Polish graves are to be found to the east of the main path running south to north and leading to Knoll Recreation Ground.

Some headstones of interest are listed below:

Alexander Campbell, born in Perthshire 9 May 1871 who was lost aboard the Lusitania 7 May 1915

Gerard Thomas Spencer Johnson (Gerry) who died while doing his duty on 20 May 1989 aged 30 in the Falkland Islands (black stone with scenic image at the top)

Henry Sydney Brooks, cellist; stone with a relief of a cello resting against a stool

Rita Rice 1901-1961; sculpture of three figures

The Forte family have some large memorials; one a marble angel, another of Our Lady of Lourdes and a third stone with incised angels.

Different Faiths

copyright © J.Middleton
Some fine Celtic cross memorials in the Roman Catholic section.

In April 1881 it was decided that Roman Catholics would be allocated half-an-acre immediately to the right of the cemetery gates. 

Catherine Broderick was buried there in 1914. She was a benefactor and builder of Catholic churches including Our Lady, Star of the Sea, and St Denis, Portslade. When she was buried it was stated that the Catholic piece of land had not been consecrated and so the officiating priest censed the inside of the grave and around the coffin.

The Little Sisters of the Poor occupy the largest grave space. Homebase now covers the site of their former convent in Old Shoreham Road, Hove.
copyright © J.Middleton
This lovely memorial dates from 1950
 and it is in the Roman Catholic section

Luigi Arditi (1822-1903) a famous musician was buried here after his death at 14 Gwydyr Mansions, Hove. He is credited with having brought Wagner to the attention of the British public in his concerts at Covent Gardens. It was also under his direction that stars such as Adelina Patti and Melba appeared. The most famous of his 69 compositions was Il Bacio, performed in Brighton in 1860.

George Augustus Sala (1828-1895) was buried here after dying at the home of his doctor in Norton Road. Father S.R. Donelly of the Sacred Heart Church took the funeral and he had only received Sala into the Roman Catholic fold some three months previously. Sala was a famous journalist and writer and Charles Dickens held him in high regard. Sala acted as special correspondent to the Daily Telegraph on the American Civil War and the coronation of Czar Alexander III in St Petersberg. He was well aware of the transitory nature of journalism because he wrote. ‘I have given the best of my brain to anonymous ephemeral work, which, no matter how good, leaves nothing behind to remember me by. I have written some 7,000 leading articles, many of them laboriously constructed, carefully thought out … crammed with information … yet when I am dead the world will only remember me as the unknown writer of some smart articles and a very weak romance.’

The original, small Jewish cemetery is situated north of the Old Shoreham Road and surrounded by fence, hedge and gates. This is because of security fears but it does mean that an ordinary visitor is unable to read the inscriptions. The Rabbi of the Palmeira Avenue Synagogue has custody of the key to the locked gates. This ground is now full and another one has been provided. 

In September 1981 it was agreed that Muslims should have their own burial ground on the north side with their graves facing towards Mecca. In September 1994 a new headstone was dedicated and the inscription ran This stone was donated by the people of Brighton and Hove to Ali Mohamed Ibbrahim (1972-1993). Two unemployed men had stabbed the unfortunate Ali. A fund was launched to pay for Ali’s funeral and a headstone; the necessary money being raised within six weeks.

A Memorial Avenue

It was a wonderful idea to install an avenue of 30 trees as a mark of respect and remembrance for the servicemen from the Brighton and Hove area who died in the First World War with each tree representing the loss of 100 men. The choice of tree was the beech (fagus sylvatica) and the trees were planted in the part of Hove Cemetery south of Old Shoreham Road. Beech trees (and hedges) hold onto to their autumn brown leaves throughout the winter and will thus provide some welcome colour at a dark time of year. In the course of 50 years it is hoped the beech trees will achieve a possible height of 30 metres.

The trees were planted in April 2018 and the event was marked with a ceremony in which Peter Field, Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, unveiled a commemorative plaque.  

However, the fierce heat and drought of the summer of 2018 affected the young trees badly and by July at least nine of them were in distress with some dying and others already dead.

 copyright © J.Middleton
The cross on the left at the north side of the main avenue commemorates the Abbey family and dates from 1937. The Celtic cross is on the grave of Zilpah Williams who died 12 December 1937.

Famous and Interesting People buried in Hove Cemetery

Charles Barber of Portslade Manor
Henry Hall Borrer (1822-1909) son of John Borrer, Portslade Manor
James Bull (1844-1911) civil engineer, worked in Spain for 30 years
John Jackson Clark (1845-1928) farmer, baker, developer and Hove Councillor
Jeremiah Colman (1853-1939) of the J. & J. Colman mustard manufacturers and Hove Councillor
James Eade, son of William Eade who founded a timber’s merchant business in Conway Street, Hove
Sir Jack Hobbs (1882-1963) famous cricketer
Constantine Ionides, famous art collector, who bequeathed his pictures, drawings and prints to the Victoria and Albert Museum
Samuel Isger, a Navy veteran of the Crimean War and Hove Commissioner, died 1924
William Jago, Alderman and Mayor of Hove, died 1938
William (Billy) Keen, sportsman and cricket fan; from 1885 to 1927 he rarely missed a match at the country ground, he died in 1928
Martin Leonard Landfried (1834-1902) one of the men who sounded the charge at the Battle of Balaclava 25 October 1854 
Samuel Thomas Lewonski, died in 1944 (see under George Street)
Charlie Mitchell (1861-1918) famous as ‘England’s Best Pugilist’
Lord George Nevill (1856-1920) third son of the 1st Marquess of Abergavenny
Rear Admiral Anson Schomberg, died in 1925; his father was Rear Admiral Herbert Schomberg and his grandfather was Vice Admiral Alexander W, Schomberg
Herbert Welsford Smithers (see under Portslade Brewery)
John Waddington (1855-1935) pioneer developer of Western Australia
George Baldwin Woodruff (1826-1907) First Mayor of Hove

 copyright © J.Middleton
The main avenue looking west towards the chapels.


Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Hove Council Minute Books
Middleton, Judy Hove and Portslade in the Great War (2014)

Thanks to Robert Jeeves of Step Back in Time 36 Queen’s Road, Brighton BN1 3XD

Copyright © J.Middleton 2016
page layout by D.Sharp