Restoration of the tomb
West Norwood Cemetery opened in 1837 as an inter-denominational commercial cemetery to cater for an expanding London. Kensal Green (the first) and West Norwood immediately became the most fashionable cemeteries for wealthy residents of London. West Norwood was known as the ‘Millionaire’s Cemetery’.
West Norwood’s cemetery was the first in England to be planned out by a single hand – Sir William Tate (1798 – 1873) – in Gothic style. It has a ‘garden’ aspect on a 45 acre sloping site, with curving roadways and deciduous trees. After the Greek War of Independence (from Ottoman rule) between 1821 and 1829, and particularly after the massacre on the island of Chios in 1822, a large Greek community came to London. Many were merchants and a large community moved to Tulse Hill. They purchased an area of West Norwood’s cemetery and through the 19th century developed the finest concentration of monuments. Some have inscriptions in Greek, some English, and were designed by architects including G.E. Street and E.M. Barry (architect of the Royal Opera House and son of Charles Barry who built the Houses of Parliament). In 1965 West Norwood cemetery was compulsorily purchased by Lambeth Council.
The Vaglianos Mausoleum contains the remains of Marinos Vaglianos (1808–1896) , founder of a major wheat trading family who had become rich supplying the Allies during the Crimean war and established the National Library in Athens. He died in Russia in 1896 but his body was brought to West Norwood for burial. His monument is inspired by the Tower of the Winds, in the Roman agora below the Acropolis in Athens. It has an octagonal tower, oval windows flanking the portico and Corinthian columns.
The monument is in need of restoration. The door has been stolen and it has been recently vandalised inside, with both caskets exposed, one of them with a limb protruding. Pigeon droppings inside are 70cm high. The restoration project will include poultice cleaning, repairing and repointing stonework and joints, re-coffining the old caskets, repairing and waxing all marble surfaces inside and new oak doors.