Ashford Cemetery, Canterbury Road

azalea bush cemetery
Azalea bush, Ashford Cemetery

On busy days, short of time, I walk my dog around Ashford Cemetery, on the Canterbury Road. Now that spring is here, the grass is cut weekly, bringing a sharp-sweet smell to the air … and sometimes a hunger-inducing oniony one, as the wild garlic is also shorn.  The scents and the lozenges of vivid colour, created by chrysanthemums, fritillaries and primroses planted onto the graves, make it a very vibrant place, despite the gravestones.

Cullen Lodge
Cullen Lodge, Ashford Cemetery, Canterbury Road

On the left of the large wrought-iron entrance gates is Cullen’s Lodge*, a fine Victorian gothic house, named after George Cullen, who retired as curator of the cemetery in 1925, after 37 years, and 6,675 burials.  One must have a distinctive perspective on life, when you’ve performed that many burials.

cullen graVE
George and Kitty Cullen’s grave, heavily weathered
Mound 1 cemetery
Non-conformist mound with teacup yew bushes

Ashford cemetery was opened in May 1859.  Urban burial grounds such as this one, were originally envisaged as public open spaces.  They were professionally designed, often by the same people who designed parks, to be attractive places to visit in their own right, and were considered part of the ‘park family’.  Like most cemeteries, it was organized so that specific parts of the site were reserved for different denominations.  There are two mounds: one in the middle and one to the left of the site.  The larger one in the middle was where a Church of England chapel once stood and the smaller mound to the right had a chapel for use by non-conformist churches.

One of the mounds
Church of England mound

There are several very tall ‘monkey-puzzle’ trees and firs: Victorian ornamental favourites.  There are also large, unusual, teacup-shaped yew bushes bordering the paths, giving a very Art Deco look to the cemetery, and which my dog loves to brush underneath to give his back a good scratch!

Teacup Yew, bordering path

As one might expect with many trees and bushes around, the cemetery is a haven for wildlife.  Most distinctively, there are a couple of green woodpeckers nesting in the cemetery, giving their characteristic throaty chuckle as they fly too high for my chasing dog.  I often see a dancing troupe of goldfinches, looking like a string of fairy lights blowing in the wind, as they pirouette between the trees.  In addition, are bluetits, greenfinches, chaffinches, jays and magpies.  On a couple of occasions, I have seen a sparrowhawk – and some pigeon victims with their hearts pecked out.

wysteria cemetery
Wysteria bordering the cemetery

Many local Victorian and Edwardian gentry, business and professional families are buried within the cemetery.  For example, there are several graves belonging to the Jemmett family.  George Elwick Jemmett (after whom Elwick and Jemmett roads were named) was Lord of the Manor as well as owning Ashford Town’s bank.  More on the Jemmett family in another post.

3 Jemmett graves
Three Jemmett graves
George Elwick JEmmett1
Lord of the Manor of Ashford: George Elwick Jemmett’s grave

* Now a private residence.



4 thoughts on “Ashford Cemetery, Canterbury Road

  1. You can find a clearer picture of George and Kitty’s tombstone on findagrave in Ashford. I took it years before it became weathered. R. Angela Vause

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Angela, for this comment and your other message. I shall look up your photograph on the findagrave website. I’ve had a few personal anecdotes about various posts, either via the website, or face-to-face, so will do a post soon, filling in these personal histories. It is, after all, what this website is all about: people and their relation to Ashford. Thank you so much for your messages.


  2. Thank you for posting this. I to walk round here daily with my dog and have tried for ages to find out more about the 2 grasses area. and some history of this graveyard


    1. Thanks Zoe. Always nice to get some feedback. If there’s ever an aspect of Ashford’s heritage about which you’d like to know more, do let me know and I’ll dig around.


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