There were originally two cemeteries called Lewisham and Deptford, both established in 1858 on land in Lewisham belonging to the Earl of Dartmouth. This was in response to legislation of 1854 banning further burials in London’s overcrowded churchyards. They were to receive burials from those two parishes. Originally separated by a strip of land, later extensions resulted in them abutting one another , and now the old dividing wall is marked only by a grassy ridge. The original designer is unknown.
There is a large Roman Catholic section at the western end of Brockley Cemetery, and a later extension in the south which was used 1922-35 and is densely packed with gravestones. By 1914 Lewisham Cemetery had been renamed Ladywell, and Deptford later became known as Brockley. Since the creation of the London Borough of Lewisham in 1965 they have been administered as a single unit.
The cemeteries, united combined in 1948, occupy 37 acres of land within the London Borough of Lewisham and are owned and managed by the Cemeteries and Crematorium Services of the Borough. They are also nature conservation sites and a haven for wildlife, plants and wildflowers.
Still in use, Brockley And Ladywell remain a very diverse and interesting burial ground. Graves dating back to the mid-19th century and some areas are overgrown and currently not accessible. Evidence of the area’s seafaring past can be discerned by the inscriptions on many of the headstones and there are several graves that are the final resting place of some of Britain’s Victorian notables. Some gravestones are undecipherable, however, or are badly damaged due to erosion, pollution and war damage (the cemeteries were hit during the Second World War and it is believed there still are unexploded bombs).
The cemeteries combined contain over 300 war graves from World War I and 37 from World War II. There is a War Plot which contains the majority of the graves and on the west side there is a Screen Wall Memorial bearing the names of those whose graves are not marked by headstones
The Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries (FOBLC) is a voluntary group which promotes the conservation and appreciation of the Brockley and Ladywell cemeteries as places of remembrance, historic importance & natural beauty.