This tranquil burial ground was opened in October 1873 by the Tunbridge Wells Town Commissioners – forerunners of today’s borough council – to serve local people of all denominations and none. Situated on a lofty tract of the ancient Frant Forest, its sandstone walls, gate lodges and twin chapels were quarried on the site itself. Those chapels are today listed as heritage buildings.
As the trees and plants matured, the cemetery was described in local guidebooks as one of the most beautiful in England. Over the years many fascinating sculptured memorials erected to commemorate the dead have added to its interest and beauty. In other parts increasingly rare wild flowers including orchids continue to flourish and are being cherished today to provide a haven for bees and butterflies.
Working closely with the Council and all who care about this very special last resting place, the Friends of Tunbridge Wells Cemetery are dedicated to conserving and enhancing its environment and heritage features so that they may be enjoyed in perpetuity.
Opened at a cost of £4,000 in the 19th century, Tunbridge Wells Cemetery is owned and operated by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council for the benefit of its residents and the wider local community. Initially covering an area of 20 acres, the cemetery saw its first interment on 14 October 1873, and after two further land extensions it now covers 26 acres whilst benefiting from a Grade 2 Listed Cemetery Chapel capable of seating 55 people.
The cemetery remains open for burials, with a public waiting room and toilets close to the chapel for visitor’s use.Cemetery Main Plan
A full funeral service may be held in the cemetery chapel prior to burial, or alternatively a service could be held in a church or other venue and the coffin brought direct to the grave for burial alone.
The Cemetery Chapel is also available for cremation services should you prefer the more traditional setting.
It is also possible to hold the entire service at the graveside if desired. Bereavement Services staff will ensure the grave is correctly prepared, and a member of staff will be in attendance throughout the whole funeral service.
Following the burial, staff will ensure that the grave is reinstated and left clean and tidy, with any floral tributes left by the family being placed on the grave.
The cemetery chapel can accommodate up to 55 people seated, with the entrance hall providing additional space for up to 10 people standing. It is a room designed to facilitate funeral services of all denominations and sects and does not display any fixed religious symbols or icons.
Music can play a very important part in any funeral service, providing a fitting background and tribute.
It is common for music to be played on entry to and exit from the cemetery chapel, with either hymns being sung or songs being played during the actual service.
We offer a wide selection of equipment for you to select from to ensure the service is as you’d like it. Our chapel is equipped with its own organ, and an organist can be arranged by your funeral director to play a wide variety of hymns, classical and modern music.
Our digital music system (OBITUS) has a comprehensive on-line library for you to choose from, and our supplier can also source more unusual pieces of music that are commercially available.
We also have a large screen mounted in the cemetery chapel for a ‘visual tribute’ to be played during the service, photographs and/or video footage being set to music of your choice.
The cemetery is currently able to offer a range of graves in both consecrated and general ground with additional provision for Roman Catholic and Muslim burials. Graves can be purchased at the time of bereavement, in advance and/or as part of a pre-paid funeral plan.
Purchased graves can benefit from ‘lawn’ or a more ‘traditional’ style, although this will depend upon the location of the grave in the cemetery.
Generally speaking the cemetery is laid out to a grid format. Depending upon existing ground conditions most graves can be excavated to accommodate up to three coffined burials (one on each other). Once the grave has received all coffined burials it then remains possible for up to six sets of cremated remains to be buried within the grave space.
It is important to note that the burial rights only give entitlement to use the grave space indicated on the deed for a period of 35 years, with freehold ownership of the land remaining with Council. Owning the rights to a particular grave allows the Registered Grave Owner to decide who can be buried within the grave, and also authorise the placement of a memorial on the grave together with its ongoing maintenance and repair.
On their death, the Registered Grave Owner has an automatic right of burial in the grave where remaining space permits, and following their funeral it is the responsibility of the executor or nearest surviving relative to arrange a transfer of the ownership of the Rights of Burial to a person with legal entitlement. Any subsequent burials or required memorial works cannot be authorised until the aforementioned legal transfer has been completed.
A Registered Grave Owner may, if they wish before their death, assign the rights to another person. However for this and other matters connected with a deceased person’s estate you are encouraged to seek professional legal advice.
These graves are located in a more traditional setting and allow customers more choice as to what type and size of memorial can be placed on the grave.
The responsibility for maintaining the grave space lies with the Registered Grave Owner. We are responsible for maintaining and cutting the grass surrounding grave spaces on all traditional sections.
Normally located in a section of the cemetery dedicated to this grave type, lawn graves can be marked by a simple headstone and a base type memorial placed at the head of the grave, but no other fixture or planting is permitted.
This allows us ease of grass cutting wherever possible, though maintenance of the grave space more frequently is the responsibility of the Registered Grave Owner.
In a quiet location separate from the adult sections, we are able to provide small graves suitable for the burial of babies up to 12 months in age. Provision for the placement of a memorial subject to current regulations is allowed.
Alternatively, parents may wish to consider purchasing a full size adult grave for their child as this provides the option of their own interment in the same grave in the future.
As previously mentioned, cremated remains may be buried in an existing grave, with the permission of the Registered Grave Owner. However, a specific cremated remains grave space can be purchased within the cemetery and can accommodate up to four sets of cremated remains.
Alternatively, we have a specific cremated remains grave section called ‘Primrose Garden’. All graves in this section are sold as part of a memorial package, but can only accommodate two sets of cremated remains.
We are corporate members of BRAMM (British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons) which was started in 2005 with the purpose of establishing a network of accredited businesses and registered memorial masons who comply with a recognised standard of workmanship and business practice throughout the UK.
Customers using a BRAMM accredited memorial stonemason can be assured of a consistent standard of workmanship and materials. Accredited memorial stonemasons can be found atBritish Register of Accredited Memorial Masons
Following the installation of a memorial we will issue a memorial deed for a period of 10 years, which can be renewed at the end of the term, subject to a physical inspection of the memorial that we will carry out.
Whilst theft of memorials, criminal and/or accidental damage is a rare occurrence in our cemetery we strongly recommend that you purchase suitable insurance for your memorial as the Council does not accept any responsibility for these, or any other items placed upon the grave.
Using the internet to find census records and entries in the Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages is fairly simple. However, until now there has been no central facility for searching UK burial and cremation register records and anyone wishing to find a grave, or details of a burial or cremation, has had to approach each burial authority or crematorium individually. With over 10,000 cemeteries and 277 crematoria across the UK today this can be a mammoth task.
To reduce this burden, the Council has partnered with ‘Deceased On-Line’ and had all of its burial and cremation registers and grave plans scanned as part of developing a national internet database.
Deceased On-Line is a national database that has powerful searching facilities to allow enquirers to find burial and cremation records by name, date and locality. There is an option to retrieve further related information, such as digital images of the original register pages, photographs of headstones and other memorials, scans of book of remembrance pages, and maps to locate graves in cemeteries.
As with other family history websites, an initial search on name and date is free, with access to further information on a pay-per-view basis.deceased online
Just to say thank you so much for today; the words chosen felt meaningful and sincere. You obviously have picked up on us as a family well.
Thank you so much for your kindness and being so helpful…
I came over yesterday to see the plaque in memory of my parents and want to thank you very much for your help. It is just where I hoped it could be placed and it means so much to see it there under such a beautiful Camellia.
…thanks for looking up the plot of Albert, which we found with your very detailed directions.