In 1956, when cremation started to become an acceptable alternative to interment, it was decided at St. Giles to provide a walled rose garden where ashes could be scattered and small metal plaques inserted into the ground. annex

There were also facilities for placing stone engraved slabs on the wall.

However, regulations then came in that forbade the scattering of ashes, and from this developed the need to have ashes buried. So, in 1978, a lawn was laid and two side walls built with stone plaques fixed to them.

The location of ashes buried in the lawn was carefully logged so that subsequent family burials could be made in the same place.

In 1990, when the walls were fully covered with plaques, the lawn was fronted with a pathway to the west side, where more plaques could be laid at ground level.

Cremations continued to increase in popularity, and in 1998, when all the space on the two paths had been occupied, arrangements were made with Francis Chappell & Sons to build a ‘Wall of Remembrance’ where more stone plaques could be secured.

The wall also afforded a screen to the chain-linked boundary with the adjoining woodland.

The original Wall is now known as 'Phase 1', as it was later extended (Phase 2).  The Garden and Walls are shown in the photographs below, as they were before the further development of the Old Garden that took place from 2016, see panel below.

'New' Garden of Remembrance

When the second wall was in turn becoming full, it was decided to prepare a brand new Garden, adjacent to the first, on its east side. This had been a simple lawned area since the burning down of the building known as The Annex, see panel to the right.

These photos show this area before and after development of the New Garden

This garden was used for all new burials of ashes between 2012 and mid 2019. It is backed by a further new Wall of Remembrance, known as Phase 3.

In 2015 a lower level wall was created around the side and front of this section of the 'new' garden, and these started to be used once the main wall had been filled up.  However it was recognised that this would only provide limited extra space, so attention turned back to developing the walls around the Old Garden.

Further Development of the 'Old Garden' 

The walls round the original garden have now been raised. This was carried out in two phases. A new high west wall was built in 2016, and then in 2018 the other three walls were rebuilt and raised. Contrast the photos below with those above.

This has provided space for new plaques that will be sufficient for many years to come.

Some of the plaques that were previously located at ground level on the west side of the garden are now positioned on top of the high wall, at the same locations.  

The new walls were brought into use in early 2019, starting with that to the south.


The Annex

Any newcomers to the area will not know about this hall, which was situated where the extension to the Garden of Remembrance is now, see 'New Garden' in the main panel. This was used for committee meetings and the Sunday School before St Giles Centre was built.

As far as I can remember before the church obtained it, it had been a workmen’s hut on a building site. I remember my children attending Sunday School there when Sally Webb, The Rev David Webb’s wife was Sunday School teacher. I have also been told that Rosalie Arnie was a Sunday School teacher in the Annex. Alan Robinson’s daughter Elizabeth told me she remembers the Sydenham Wheelers using it for winter training on rollers. Valerie Bailey said her husband Peter helped renew the floor joists when they needed doing.

Unfortunately, the Annex burnt down one night, I don’t know if it was arson or an electrical fault, but being wooden it went up very quickly. I estimate it must have been around the mid-1970s.

We still refer to the lower car park as The Annex Car Park.

Richard Healey