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Breathtaking Monuments of London’s Iconic Greek Cemetery Under Restoration

west norwood greek cemetery
The Ralli family mortuary chapel at the West Norwood Cemetery in London. Credit: Twitter/AlexiBaker

In an attempt to protect and maintain the iconic monuments in the Greek Orthodox section of London’s historic West Norwood Cemetery, the many sculptural masterpieces there are set to undergo a massive restoration campaign.

The effort to maintain the Greek Orthodox section’s stunning monuments will begin with the massive mortuary chapel of the Ralli family, which was dedicated to St. Stephen and modeled after a Doric temple.

The restoration of the small Greek Orthodox section of the cemetery, home to the most listed funerary monuments in Britain, will be headed by the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery. The organization is dedicated to preserving the history of West Norwood, one of London’s “Magnificent Seven” Victorian cemeteries.

west norwood greek cemetery
The Greek Orthodox section of West Norwood. Credit: Twitter/Sir_Doris

The history of the Greek section of West Norwood Cemetery

The historic cemetery was built in 1837 to accommodate the city’s rapidly expanding population, and its funerary monuments and sepulchers are widely considered to be the most splendid in all of London.

The Greek Orthodox section of West Norwood is a remnant of the wave of Greek immigrants to London who arrived in the early 19th century. Although most Greek immigrants lived in central London in the Victorian period, Greek community leaders purchased the plot in West Norwood, located in South London, because of the cemetery’s renown.

The graves and monuments are so tightly packed in the the Greek Orthodox section, just as they are in the entirety of the cemetery, that there is no longer any room for more burials in this historic section of West Norwood.

The ornate, hauntingly beautiful Greek Orthodox section of the cemetery is a testament to the significance of the Greek immigrant community in Victorian London, many of whose members went on to establish successful businesses upon arriving in England.

west norwood greek cemetery
Maria Zambaco in “Cupid and Psyche” by Edward Burne-Jones, 1870. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Many prominent figures are buried in this section, including Maria Zambaco, the breathtaking muse of the Pre-Raphaelites, who is interred there under her maiden name of Cassavetti.

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