Woking's globally significant heritage destination, Brookwood Cemetery, has received the prestigious national Green Flag Award - a first for the borough.
The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for their management across the United Kingdom and around the world.
Its aim is to ensure that everyone has access to quality green space and enable residents live a more healthy lifestyle.
The awards are judged every year by a peer jury of green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability, and community involvement.
Cllr Graham Cundy, Woking Borough Council's Lead Member for Brookwood Cemetery, said: "Brookwood Cemetery is a uniquely beautiful, natural space of social and ecological value, is one of the most significant heritage sites within the borough and is considered a site of national significance by Historic England. The Green Flag Award is an exceptional achievement. It reflects the hard work and dedication of our cemetery staff and our exciting plans for the future. They should all be extremely proud."
Avril Kirby, Brookwood Cemetery Manager, added: “This fantastic achievement in recognition of the cemetery's ongoing transformation is a great reward for the team, who work so hard all year round to improve standards and deliver excellent customer service. It’s not just about the appearance, it’s also about the benefits it provides to the community and ensuring it functions effectively as a cemetery now and in the future.”
Commenting on Brookwood Cemetery's success, Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive, Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, said: “This year, more than ever, our parks and green spaces have been a lifeline and we know that millions of people have used them to relax, meet friends, exercise or simply escape for a short time.
“It is testament to the incredible dedication and hard work of parks staff and volunteers that, despite the challenges that went along with record numbers of visitors, Brookwood Cemetery has achieved the highest international standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.”
Brookwood Cemetery was founded mid-nineteenth century after a cholera epidemic (1848-49) exacerbated the problem of overcrowding across London’s cemeteries. Built by the London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company (LNNMC) on 2,268 acres of heathland purchased from Lord Onslow, Brookwood was reputed to be the largest cemetery in Europe and the pinnacle of Victorian garden cemetery design.
Since acquiring the site in 2014, Woking Borough Council has implemented an extensive programme of restoration to return the Grade 1 listed park and garden to its former glory. It recently announced exciting plans for a Masterplan and Experience Plan setting out how the heritage site will be managed and developed in the future for the benefit of residents and visitors, whilst remaining a fully working cemetery. In recognition of its ongoing transformation, Brookwood was recently awarded 'Silver' at the national Cemetery of the Year awards in the ‘Large Cemetery’ category.
Reaffirming its heritage ties with London, a new burial site is being prepared at Brookwood Cemetery for those individuals archaeologically excavated and exhumed from St James’s Gardens in Euston as part of the enabling works for the new High Speed 2 (HS2) Ltd station.
For more information about Brookwood Cemetery, please visit brookwoodcemetery.com