Vineyard Passage - History
Vineyard Passage Burial Ground
Where we are . . .
Just across the road from St Mary Magdalene Church in central Richmond, a narrow path (the Vineyard Passage) heads up the Hill between the Vestry House and the Travelodge Hotel. After about 30 yards it opens out to an old cemetery, which was transformed 50 years ago into a lightly wooded wild garden. It is secluded and quiet, and one of the lesser known treasures of Richmond.
A little history . . .
In the late 1700s, the churchyard of St Mary Magdalene was getting full. There was space on the Hill; it was then largely open ground, owned in strips and run as market gardens. The Church Trust already owned land there and more land was bought from a Mr. Edward Collins for £700. The new Burial Ground was consecrated in 1791, behind a new Vestry House (subsequently replaced by the present building) fronting Paradise Road.
By 1874, the Burial Ground was full and closed for further burials. After lying undisturbed for 90 years, it was transformed into a woodland garden. Many of the gravestones in the upper part were laid flat or moved down to the lower part, and there was a comprehensive planting of ornamental trees and shrubs in a subtle and fairly open design. Paths were widened and paved properly, and some benches installed, to create a green oasis much as you see today.
While Richmond Council carries out routine maintenance work, the Vineyard Passage Burial Ground Group has taken a lead role in the care of the Burial Ground. Over the years, we have raised (and spent) some £40,000 in restoring decayed and broken monuments, repairing listed iron railings, improving paths and planting new and replacement trees and shrubs. We have recently created a new area of wild British plants for summer flowering. For more information about the garden please see Vineyard Passage - Nature page.
Information boards for the passing public have been installed, showing the layout of the grounds and where the main trees and graves can be seen. We have also put up a notice cabinet in the Passage to display brief biographies of the more interesting people buried here - including those seeking fame or fortune in the former British Empire, French aristocrats fleeing their Revolution of 1789, and people who have made their mark in other ways - and notes on the birds to be seen here over the seasons.
We meet on site on the first Saturday of every month to continue the Burial Ground’s detailed care.
For any further information, please contact us.