ANNUAL REPORT for 2016-2017 TO THE AGM OF FRIENDS of BROCKLEY AND
LADYWELL CEMETERIES JUNE 2017
The Friends group was formed in July 2007, and at the end of March 2017 had a membership
of 130, an increase of two from the end of March 2016. The majority of members live in and
around South-east London, with others further afield.
The Friends group had six open committee meetings during the year, plus one General
meeting in addition to the AGM. The highlight of the AGM was a talk about Donald Glass
from Tristan da Cunha, who is buried in Ladywell, by Sian Shaw who is researching his
7 general “work sessions” have taken place, including one in conjunction with the Council’s
Nature Conservation Department’s Nature’s Gym. Work has mainly been removing sycamore
and ash growths, as well as Turkey Oak saplings, in both Cemeteries. Work has also started
on sprucing up an ornamental island near the Chiesman family grave. An additional session
dealing with Japanese Knotweed was also undertaken by two members with the necessary
qualifications. Numbers attending the sessions have varied between 3 and 7, representing
approx. 81 hours’ work over the year. Many thanks to the members who took part.
A series of walks were held throughout the year. A wildflower walk in April, led by Mike
Keogh attracted around 25 people. A Bat Walk in May led by the Council’s Nature
Regeneration Manager, Nick Pond, was nearly washed out, but five members were pleased to
come across bats.
The history-themed walks were based mainly around the Battle of the Somme but also
highlighting the air-borne threats to London in both World Wars. Thanks are due to Peter
Mealing, Mike Guilfoyle and Mick Martin for continuing to enlarge our knowledge of these
events and the links to the two Cemeteries.
As part of this work, four members visited the area of the Somme battlefield in France,
including Thiepval and Mametz Wood.
We again participated in the Brockley Max Arts Festival, the week-long arts event in May &
June. Jeff Hart led a tour of the two Cemeteries, and we hosted, in conjunction with the
Brockley Society, a well-attended talk on David Jones by Dr. Anne Price-Owen.
The group also facilitated the showing of a film in the Chapel, organised by a local resident.
There were several notable events during the year including the celebration of the 9th
Anniversary of the Friends in July. A successful series of walks took place. It was estimated
that around 200 people attended.
The Live Literature Company presented a performance based on David Jones’ In Parenthesis
in the evening.
A sub-committee has been set up to plan an expanded Open Day to celebrate the tenth
anniversary of the founding of the group.
The group also hosted a reading by author Paul Thomas Murphy of his book about the murder
of Jane Clouson, Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane.
As part of National Cemeteries’ Week in September, under the umbrella of the National
Federation of Cemetery Friends, we hosted a Public Art Exhibition in the Chapel
commemorating Animals in Service. A walk on this theme also took place.
We held our seventh Remembrance Day event, laying wreaths at the Ladywell and Brockley
war memorials. Poppy crosses were placed at other relevant memorials in between. Up to 25
people including children attended the event.
An additional guided walk took place the following Sunday, linking stages of the battle with
names memorialised in the Cemeteries.
Donations were made to the HMS Hampshire Memorial campaign, in recognition of Charles
Thomas Stringer, whose family grave is in the Brockley Cemetery, and to the Royal British
Legion for the Remembrance Day wreaths.
In recognition of the group’s work in bring these events to a wider public as part of the Living
Memory project as well as raising awareness of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
memorials, the group was awarded a commemorative certificate and a bush rose.
The group had stalls at a couple of events, helping to raise the profile of the group: at the
Friends of Nunhead Cemetery Open Day (May) and the Hilly Fields Midsummer Fayre
The Vice-Chair again spoke at a meeting of the South London History Group, and is booked
to speak again in July 2017.
The group is represented on the Council’s Biodiversity Partnership, and supplies details of
work done and numbers attending for a national reporting scheme. Bird sightings are also
reported. Advice is also given to the group on biodiversity matters.
The Friends remained a member of the National Federation of Cemeteries’ Friends, and sent
delegates to the 2016 AGM in Newbury.
The group is also affiliated to Voluntary Action Lewisham, an umbrella organisation which
offers training and advice to voluntary groups and organisations.
The website and BlogSpot, managed by Patrick Napier, continues to be the group’s public
face, with articles and information regularly uploaded. According to the Google statistics,
there were 8143 visits during the year, up from 7809 visits last year. The majority of visits
were, of course, from the UK (over 6500), but with a sizeable number from USA (over 600),
and also Canada, Australia, New Zealand, as well as European countries. The top subjects
were Margaret McMillan, Jane Clouson, David Jones, and the post of “When the Barrage
Research into the histories of individuals memorialised in the Cemeteries continues.
Members also keep a few graves “tidy” at the request of descendents unable to visit the
graves. One of these we were helping, founder-member Josie Martin, passed away during the
year. Representatives of the Friends’ attended the interment of her ashes at a family grave in
The bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to secure a grant to renovate the Hither Green/Sydenham
civilian memorial in the Ladywell Cemetery and the Deptford Civilian airship memorial was
successful. A local stonemason, Crowley Memorials, has been tasked with the job of
installing the new memorial in the Ladywell Cemetery.
I would like to thank all members for their continued enthusiasm and support over the past
year, although more “willing hands” are always welcome.
The group would like to thank Alison Beck and Colin Burgess, the Council Officers
responsible for the Cemeteries, for their co-operation in the past year, and for the continuing
use of the Chapel for our meetings.
Thanks are also due to Nick Pond, of the Council’s Nature Conservation Department for his
advice and to Jess Kyle and Judith Simmons for arranging the Nature’s Gym work session.