Key Hill Cemetery

Key Hill Cemetery, (OS grid reference SP059882), originally called Birmingham General Cemetery, is a cemetery in Hockley (the Jewellery Quarter), Birmingham, England. It opened in 1836 as a nondenominational cemetery (in practice nonconformist), and is the oldest cemetery, not being in a churchyard, in Birmingham.[1] The principal entrance is on Icknield Street to the west, with a secondary entrance on Key Hill to the north. The cemetery contains the graves of many prominent members of Birmingham society in the late 19th century, to the extent that in 1915 E. H. Manning felt able to dub it "the Westminster Abbey of the Midlands".[2]

Key Hill Cemetery
Key Hill Cemetery autumn MF.jpg
Key Hill Cemetery in the Autumn, Jewellery Quarter station is behind the wall
Coordinates52°29′28″N 1°54′54″W / 52.491°N 1.915°W / 52.491; -1.915Coordinates: 52°29′28″N 1°54′54″W / 52.491°N 1.915°W / 52.491; -1.915
Gates and railings on Icknield Street: listed monument
1903 Ordnance Survey map

It is the older of two cemeteries in Hockley, the other being Warstone Lane Cemetery, opened in 1847, which was originally reserved for members of the established Church of England.

The cemetery is no longer available for new burials.

History and descriptionEdit

The cemetery was originally laid out for the Birmingham General Cemetery Company by local architect Charles Edge (d.1867).[3] It opened on 23 May 1836.

Many of its fittings and memorials are of architectural and artistic merit. The railings and entrance gates with imposing piers (all by Edge) are Grade II listed.[4][5] The Greek Doric chapel, also by Edge, has been demolished.[6] The cemetery is itself listed Grade II* on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.[3] A campaign group, the Friends of Key Hill & Warstone Lane Cemeteries, lobbies to have the cemetery restored. The entrance piers and gates on both Icknield Street and Key Hill have been restored in recent years.


Obelisk commemorating the preacher George Dawson (1821–1876)

A comprehensive record of memorial inscriptions of existing memorials (and of some of those removed by Birmingham City Council) may be consulted through the Jewellery Quarter Research Trust's website.[7]

Notable people buried in the cemetery include:

War gravesEdit

There are 46 Commonwealth service war graves in the cemetery, commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 38 from the First World War (mostly in section L, none marked by headstones) whose names are listed on a Screen Wall memorial; and eight from the Second.[10]


  1. ^ McKenna, Joseph (1992). In The Midst of Life – A History of the Burial Grounds of Birmingham. Birmingham: Birmingham Library Services. ISBN 0-7093-0188-X.
  2. ^ Manning 1924, p. 11.
  3. ^ a b Historic England. "Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham  (Grade II*) (1001352)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  4. ^ Historic England. "Railings and 2 sets of gates and gate piers to Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham  (Grade II) (1343080)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  5. ^ Foster, Andy (2005). Birmingham. Pevsner Architectural Guides. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 176. ISBN 0-300-10731-5.
  6. ^ Foster 2005, p. 10.
  7. ^ "Jewellery Quarter Research Trust". Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Manning 1924.
  9. ^ "Burial Records". Jewellery Quarter Research Trust. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Birmingham (Key Hill) Cemetery". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 2 October 2016.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit