On Thursday 12 November 2015, His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO, officially opened an Islamic-style Peace Garden at the beautifully restored Muslim Burial Ground in Horsell Common.
The site that was once the final resting place of 19 Muslim soldiers from the Great War, and a further eight casualties of the Second World War, has been restored to its former glory to create a lasting legacy for the 27 servicemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend Britain.
The four-year restoration project of this Grade II listed structure celebrates the Borough's relationship with the Shah Jahan Mosque, the first purpose-built mosque in the UK.
Located on the south east corner of Horsell Common, a short distance from the Mosque, the site was purchased by the War Office, and a Muslim Burial Ground was commissioned in 1915 to ensure Muslim soldiers could be buried according to their religious rites.
Although the bodies of the 27 servicemen laid to rest at the site were later reinterred at the larger Brookwood Military Cemetery in 1969, the Muslim Burial Ground remained sacred and untouched.
Restored to its original state
Horsell Common Preservation Society has owned the Muslim Burial Ground since the Commonwealth War Graves Commission reinterred the bodies and relinquished responsibility for the site in 1969. Despite two decades of discussion and planning between Woking Borough Council and the Society, it wasn't until the offer of financial help from Historic England (formerly English Heritage) was received that restoration works could commence.
The Muslim Burial Ground and Peace Garden is a significant heritage site for Woking. As well as enhancing pride of place and encouraging visitors, the site will provide a focal point for future acts of commemoration.
Take a virtual tour
Restoration of the Muslim Burial Ground and the creation of the Peace Garden would not have been possible without funding and support from the following organisations.
- Armed Forces Covenant Grant Scheme
- Department for Communities and Local Government
- Historic England
- Horsell Common Preservation Society
- Shah Jahan Mosque
- Sultanate of the Government of Oman
- Surrey County Council
- Woking Borough Council
The site is managed by the Horsell Common Preservation Society. Further information can be found on its website.