This week I visited Camberwell New Cemetery in Forest Hill where Southwark Council’s burial records are kept for all cemeteries located in the borough. The reason for my visit was to find out where Arthur Robert Cripps was buried, as my only guess was that it would have been Camberwell Old Cemetery or Nunhead Cemetery, those being the only two cemeteries in the area which were open at the time of his death.
So I set off in the snow early on Wednesday morning with the details of Arthur Robert Cripps to hand. The staff there were helpful, guiding me to the section which would be of relevance. I picked up the Nunhead Cemetery record book for 1911 first. I took it over to the table and sat down. It was pretty easy to navigate to the correct section, which I found within minutes of arriving and after looking through a couple of surnames beginning with ‘C’ I found a match. The staff there looked impressed that I found what I was searching for so quickly, the lady in charge said some people are there for hours before they find what they’re looking for.
So my trip confirmed that Arthur Robert Cripps died 12 April, 1911 and was buried 18 April, 1911 at Nunhead Cemetery. He was buried in section 121 and his grave number is 30216. The records are stored by cemetery, then by year and then by surname – making it very difficult to find out if anybody is buried with him.
After leaving Camberwell New Cemetery, I proceeded to walk to Nunhead Cemetery which is about a 10-minute walk away. Once I arrived, I went into the cemetery warden’s office where the man in charge printed me off a detailed map of all the plots in the section which Arthur is buried. When I got to the section, I knew that it was going to be a challenge as huge parts of the cemetery have become totally overgrown and vandalised.
I wandered off the path towards the plot and I began to realise the chances of me finding anything were already looking bleak. By the time I was a few metres away from where I started, I already couldn’t see the path. The day I chose to visit was a couple of degrees below freezing and there was ice everywhere, also I needed another pair of hands to help clear away ivy and cut away bushes so gravestones could be seen. After a few minutes of searching I thought best to give up, go home and have some lunch with a hot cup of tea!
In the near future I plan to go back try again.
Update: I went back in mid-January and searched again, but my efforts proved unsuccessful. The area which the plot should be located is crammed full of gravestones, most of them damaged and fallen over. It’s possible that Arthur didn’t have a gravestone sited on his plot, as his death would have been unexpected and the family were probably unable to afford one.