Under certain conditions urban authorities are empowered to provide
markets in their district by the following clause of the Public Health
Act 1875:

“Where an urban authority are a local board or improvement
commissioners, they shall have power, with the consent of the owners and
ratepayers of their district, expressed by resolution passed in manner
provided by Schedule III. to this Act, and where the urban authority are
a town council they shall have power, with the consent of two thirds of
their number, to do the following things, or any of them, within their

“To provide a market place, and construct a market house and other
conveniences, for the purpose of holding markets:

“To provide houses and places for weighing carts:

“To make convenient approaches to such market:

“To provide all such matters and things as may be necessary for the
convenient use of such market:

“To purchase or take on lease land, and public or private rights in
markets and tolls for any of the foregoing purposes:

“To take stallages, rents and tolls in respect of the use by any person
of such market:

“But no market shall be established in pursuance of this section so as
to interfere with any rights, powers, or privileges enjoyed within the
district by any person without his consent” (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s.

In many towns, markets both for cattle and general merchandise have been
already established, and the duties of the town surveyor are simply to
execute the necessary alterations and maintenance of the buildings in
connection with them, but there may be occasions on which he has to
advise his corporation upon the acquisition of land for the purpose of
laying it out as a cattle market, and afterwards the erection of the
necessary pens and buildings, and a few remarks upon the subject may be
of some service.

The site for a cattle market should be selected, if practicable, near to
a railway station, so as to avoid as much as possible the dangerous and
objectionable practice of driving cattle and sheep through the streets,
and for the same reasons it should be near the public slaughter-houses
if there are any in the town. Plenty of space should be provided in the
market for the cattle to move about in, for it must be remembered that
many of them which are sent to market are unused to the bustle of a
town, and are wild and untractable, and have never in their lives been
subjected to either penning or tethering.

The site must be easily and effectively drained, it should be somewhat
isolated with respect to neighbouring buildings, the more air that can
be got to sweep through it the better.

The accommodation necessary in a cattle market must vary considerably
with the requirements of the district, but the following list may be
given for selection:

(1.) Pens or lairs for fat beasts.

(2.) Pens or lairs for store cattle.

(3.) Pens or lairs for cows with calves.

(4.) Pens or lairs for calves.

(5.) Pens for sheep.

(6.) Pens or styes for pigs.

(7.) Covered sheds or stables for horses.

(8.) A space for showing horses off.

(9.) Sheds for agricultural implements.

(10.) Shops for the display of seeds, ropes, tarpaulins, sacks, etc.

(11.) Accommodation for auctioneers.

(12.) Lodges and offices for the superintendent or gate keeper.

(13.) A weighing machine and office.

(14.) A corn exchange (this is sometimes provided in the general

The entrance to a cattle market may with advantage be provided with
double sets of gates, with a space between in which flocks of sheep or
herds of cattle can be temporarily penned; a wicket gate in the second
set of gates will enable the toll collecter to count the number of
animals easily as they pass through into the market.

The paving of the market should be of granite pitches, as it is
essential that it should not be slippery, or the cattle, which usually
arrive in a very excited condition, will fall and injure themselves;
this description of paving is also fairly impervious, and is easily

The paving of the lairs and pens may, however, be of asphalte.

For the cattle there may be enclosures for loose bullocks as well as
divisions in which the cattle are tethered; these divisions and
enclosures may be constructed of brick walls about 4 feet 6 inches in
height, or posts and rails of wood and iron, strongly fastened iron
rings about 4 feet apart are necessary to which the beasts must be

The paving must be kept high towards the head of the beast in order to
show him off to the greatest advantage.

Large painted signboards should be fixed over the entrance of each
compartment, to designate to which class it belongs, in order to avoid
confusion or mistake. There should be drinking troughs for all cattle,
and hydrants should be fixed all about the market, so that it can be
thoroughly flushed and washed down.

The sheep-pens can be constructed with iron or wood posts and rails with
the whole of one side opening as a gate, they should be about 3 feet in
height, and the floor should slope up from the point at which the
purchaser will stand in order that the sheep at the far end of the pen
may not appear diminutive.[229]

The gates of the sheep-pens should be strongly stayed, as they make most
convenient seats on which the drovers and heavy farmers sit whilst they
drive their bargains.

With regard to the dimensions of the pens and lairs, the following sizes
are suggested as sufficient spaces for different animals, in the modern
bye-laws, emanating from the Local Government Board in 1877, with
respect to markets:

For every horse 8 feet by 2 feet.
For every ox or cow 8 „ „ 2 „
For every mule or ass 5 „ „ 1 feet 6 inches.
For every calf 5 „ „ 1 „ 3 „
For every sheep, goat or pig (of medium size) 4 feet superficial.

The pens for calves and the styes for pigs should be covered, and their
floors should be about 3 feet 6 inches above the general level of the
market, as animals of this description are generally brought in carts,
and they could thus be easily moved out and in.

These pens and styes must of course be thoroughly well drained and

With regard to the weighing machine, this should be of the best
manufacture, and be of sufficient size to weigh a large wagon. It is
better to have what is called a “self contained” iron foundation, and
pit for the weighbridge rather than one of masonry. A convenient size
for this weighbridge would be 15 feet in length by 12 feet in breadth.

With reference to the rest of the provisions I have enumerated, they
require no special comment, but must necessarily be left to the
discretion of the town surveyor and the wishes of his corporation.

Markets for general merchandise are usually handsome buildings, which
are erected in the most central positions of the town; they contain:

(1.) The corn exchange (this is sometimes erected in the cattle market).

(2.) The fish market.

(3.) The dead meat market (this is sometimes erected in connection with
the public slaughter-houses).

(4.) The game and poultry market.

(5.) The fruit, vegetable and flower market.

(6.) The butter, eggs and cheese market.

(7.) The miscellaneous goods market.

(8.) Public conveniences.

(9.) Offices and dwelling for the clerk of the market.

(10.) Committee room for the market committee.

The floor of the market should be on a level as much as is practicable
with the adjacent streets; steps up or down are objectionable for the
public, and galleries or upper floors should also be avoided unless the
available area of the site is limited.

The interior of the building should be lofty, and it must be thoroughly
well ventilated; the great fault with nearly all existing markets is the
cutting draught to which buyers and sellers are usually subjected.

Plenty of light is essential, but the rays of the sun should be
excluded by frosted glass or other contrivance, or the goods exposed for
sale will be damaged.

The floor should be of asphalte or other similar material; it is
surprising what a “mess” is always made in a market.

The stalls must be so arranged as to show to best advantage the goods
offered, and plenty of “gangway” should be left between them for the
passage of the public.

Fish stalls should be constructed of iron, slate or similar material,
plenty of water being provided in this department; fish-washing troughs
filled with running water are very desirable, and a fountain can be
introduced with pleasing effect.

Butchers’ stalls should be of thick wood to resist the chopping, and
plenty of standards and rails provided with iron hooks must be fixed
above them.

A great number of moveable iron “offal boxes” should be placed in
different parts of the market, which must be cleared at least once a
day, and the market should be frequently flushed and cleansed with water
from hydrants fixed in different parts of the building.

Many other points will no doubt suggest themselves to town surveyors,
who have the important work of designing either cattle or general
markets to undertake, but the few suggestions which have been given may
be of some use.

[229] The following is a description of the manner in which the sheep
are penned in the cattle market of la Villette at Paris:–“The
enclosures or pens are all of iron, those for the sheep have a centre
railing 3 feet 3 inches high, and cross railings 1 foot 9 inches high;
the former with three horizontal rails and vertical rods, and the
latter two horizontal rails and vertical rods. There is a distance of
15 feet betwixt the high railings, which is divided into three by iron
posts 21 inches high. The first row of these posts is placed at a
distance of 3 feet from the low cross railing at the passage, the
second row 18 inches from the first, the third 3 feet from the second,
and so on. The sheep are placed in line side by side as close as they
can stand, with their heads up to the low rail. A moveable hurdle of
wood is then set on edge between the sheep in rear and the iron posts
just described. A passage of 18 inches is left clear, and then another
row of sheep and another passage, and so on. In this manner a great
number of sheep are put into little space, in such a way as all can be
examined with the greatest ease.” (_Vide_ ‘Report on the New Cattle
Market and Abattoirs proposed to be erected at Carolina Port, Dundee,’
by W. Mackison, F.R.I.B.A., &c., Town Surveyor, Dundee).

Amongst the many duties that a town surveyor has to perform is sometimes
included that of laying out land for a large burial ground or cemetery,
and its management after construction. Power is given to all local
authorities to become burial authorities by the Public Health Interments
Act 1879, and so strongly is the need felt for what is called extramural
interment, that the Local Government Board may compel a local authority
to provide and maintain cemeteries. Power is also given for the
compulsory purchase of land for this purpose (see sections 175, 176, of
the Public Health Act 1875), and the cemetery may be placed either
within or without the district over which the local authority exercise
their jurisdiction, and many other privileges are granted in order to
encourage the acquisition of land so far removed from habitations as to
make the burial ground as sanitary as the practice of burying human
bodies can be made.

Land once consecrated or used for burial cannot afterwards be sold or
used for secular purposes, except of course by an Act of Parliament;
“footpaths may, however, be provided in a consecrated but disused burial
ground, and the ground may be planted, so as in effect, though not
nominally, to make it a public garden.”[230]

A cemetery must not be constructed within 200 yards of any dwelling
house, without the consent in writing of the owner, lessee, and occupier
of such house; but there is no prohibition upon anyone to prevent their
building a house close to a cemetery after it has been established.[231]

Chapels may be built in cemeteries for the performance of the burial
services, and the grounds may be laid out and embellished as the local
authority may deem fit. The cemetery must be enclosed by walls or other
sufficient fences or iron railings 8 feet in height; it must be properly
sewered and drained, but such drainage must not flow into any “stream,
canal, reservoir, aqueduct, pond or watering place.”[232]

Cemeteries are divided into consecrated and unconsecrated portions by
bond stones or other suitable marks; a chapel must be built upon the
consecrated portion, although it does not seem to be compulsory to do so
upon the unconsecrated portion.

The selection of a proper site on sanitary and other grounds for a
cemetery is one of the greatest importance, and a town surveyor, or
anyone who has this duty to perform, cannot do better than keep the
following words of the well-known sanitary engineer Mr. Eassie before

“A well-chosen cemetery is one whose soil is dry, close, and yet porous,
permitting the rain and its accompanying air to reach a reasonable
depth, and so expedite decay. The formation is also well covered with
vegetable mould, which assists in neutralising any hurtful emanations,
and encourages the growth of shrubs. The subsoil is also of such a kind
as to need no under draining, and such as will prevent the water lodging
in any grave or vault. It will also stand exposed to the north or north
east winds which are dry, and which do not hold the putrefactive gases
in solution, like the moist south or south westerly winds.”

“An improperly chosen graveyard may be said to be one where the soil is
dense and clayey, and impervious to moisture. It will be insufficiently
drained, necessitating the use of planks to walk upon in wet weather. It
will be too close to the abodes of the living, too small to permit
proper planting, the graves covered, it may be with flat stones which
prevent the passage downwards of the air and rain, and surrounded
moreover by high walls which exclude the fresh air. The ground will be
stony and insufficiently covered with vegetable soil. No natural outfall
will exist, and the drainage water must be pumped up, the bare idea of
which is horrible. It will be near also to water-bearing strata, or to a
reservoir. Long before decomposition has taken place owing to the
smallness of the site, and the impossibility of obtaining any more land
except at high building prices, the organic matter hidden out of sight
will be far too large in proportion to the area.”

Dr. Parsons, in a memorandum prepared by him on the “Sanitary
Requirements of Cemeteries” and published by the Local Government Board
in their eleventh annual report, says:

“The soil of a cemetery should be of an open, porous nature, with
numerous close interstices, through which air and moisture may pass in a
finely divided state freely in every direction. In such a soil decay
proceeds rapidly, and the products of decomposition are absorbed or
oxidised. The soil should be easily worked, yet not so loose as to
render the work of excavation dangerous through the liability to falls
of earth. It should be free from water or hard rock to a depth of at
least 8 feet. If not naturally free from water, it should be drained if
practicable to that depth: to this end it is necessary that the site
should be sufficiently elevated above the drainage level of the
locality, either naturally, or, where necessary, by filling it up to the
required level with suitable earth.”

“Loam, and sand with a sufficient quantity of vegetable mould, are the
best soils; clay and loose stones the worst. A dense clay is laborious
to work and difficult to drain; by excluding moisture and air it retards
decay, and it retains, in a concentrated state, the products of
decomposition, sometimes to be discharged into graves opened in the
vicinity, or sometimes to escape through cracks in the ground to the
surface. A loose, stony soil, on the other hand, allows the passage of

And with reference to the site to be chosen for a cemetery he further

“Nevertheless, in view of the evils which in former times have
undoubtedly arisen from the practice of intramural sepulture, and also
because the erection of houses near a cemetery interferes with the free
play of air around and over it, it is desirable that the site of the
cemetery should be in a neighbourhood in which building is not likely to
take place, and also that so far as practicable a belt of ground should
be reserved between the graves and the nearest land on which a house may
be built, in order to obviate to some extent the risk of contamination
of ground-air and subsoil water with decomposing matters. This is
especially necessary where houses are constructed with cellars. It is,
therefore, highly desirable that interments should not be made up to the
extreme edge of the cemetery, and it would be possible without great
waste of space to reserve in all cases a strip of ground free from
interments, 15 to 30 feet in width, around the whole cemetery on the
interior of the boundary fence. This strip would afford room, on the
inside for a gravel or asphalte walk to give access to all parts of the
cemetery, and on the outside next the fence to a belt of shrubs or
trees, the rootlets of which, penetrating the soil, would arrest and
assimilate any decomposing matters percolating to the exterior of the
cemetery. Obviously a cemetery should not be placed on elevated ground
above houses, where the soakings from it may percolate to the sites and
foundations of the dwellings below. . . .”

“Sites are of course unsuitable which are liable to be flooded or to
landslips, or which are in danger of being washed away, or encroached
upon by streams or the sea. Very steep sites are not desirable. The
cemetery should be accessible by good roads from all parts of the

As to the unsuitability of clay as a soil for cemeteries, Louis Créteur
in “Hygiene in the Battle Field” says, that the bodies of soldiers slain
during the Battle of Sedan were buried in chalk, quarry rubble, sand,
argillite, slate, marl, or clay soils, and the work of disinfection
lasted from the beginning of March till the end of June. In rubble the
decay had fully taken place, but in the clay the bodies kept well, and
even after a very long time the features could be identified.

With regard to the amount of land necessary for a cemetery, Dr. Parsons
calculates that about a quarter of an acre of land for every thousand of
the population of the community to whom the cemetery belongs, is the
“usually estimated minimum,” but this is far too small a proportion even
for a cemetery possessing every advantage, and he further states, “The
desirability of providing more than this bare minimum of space is
obvious, and is generally recognized.” It must be remembered that as a
rule, quite one-sixth of the total area of a cemetery is taken up by the
roads, paths, ornamental grass or beds of flowers and shrubs, the
chapels, mortuaries, lodges, &c., and sufficient width should be allowed
between each grave space to permit every grave being reached without
trampling on others: a standard of 110 burials per acre has sometimes
been taken, but this appears to me to be rather a small one.

In laying out ground for a cemetery, the following are some points that
require careful attention:

(1.) The position of the entrance or entrances; there should if possible
be only one, as a lodge is necessary at each, which entails expense.

(2.) The best position for the lodge or lodges, the chapels and

(3.) The direction of the roads in the cemetery: these must be wide
enough for the hearses and mourning coaches, and there must be
convenient places provided for turning round.

(4.) The direction of the paths:[234] these and the roads should be as
straight as possible, so as to economise available burial ground, paths
should be sufficiently wide to allow an entrance to be made in them to
the adjoining vaults or walled graves, these being frequently covered
with a massive tomb or ledger very difficult to remove. The vaults and
walled graves, being of a better class, are generally put in the borders
of the burial ground, close to the paths.

(5.) In some soils deep and careful drainage is necessary. This should
be carried out with ordinary drain pipes laid at a depth of at least 10
feet, and so communicating with each other and the grave spaces, that
even in a clay soil each grave as it is sunk should be found free from

(6.) Surface drainage, especially of the roads and paths, is also

(7.) Provision must be made for the disposal of the soil excavated from
the graves, as very little punning or ramming of the soil thrown in
after a burial should be permitted, and thus there is always a large
quantity of material to be otherwise disposed of.

The cemetery must be divided into Church or consecrated ground,
Dissenters’ ground, and Roman Catholic ground, in such proportions as
may be found to suit the particular requirements of the locality in
which the cemetery is placed.

These divisions must again be subdivided into sections according to the
class and description of the proposed grave, and each of these
subdivisions and grave-spaces must be accurately marked with a
distinguishing letter and number, so that on reference to a plan and a
register book, any person’s grave may be easily found, however long a
time may have elapsed since the interment took place, and although no
headstone or mark over the grave is there. It is needless to say, that
the plan of the cemetery has to be most carefully prepared, and the
ground equally carefully set out, to prevent any chance of error
occurring, or serious consequences might result. It may be well to
remark that no body can be removed after burial without an order from
one of Her Majesty’s principal Secretaries of State, or by faculty from
the Bishop in consecrated ground.[235]

The following description of the different sections necessary in a large
cemetery may here be of use, the fees chargeable for the privilege of
burying in each section advancing with the letters appropriated to the

_Section A._ This is appropriated to workhouse paupers or very poor
persons only,[236] the depth[237] of the grave may be limited to 6 feet,
and the size should be 9 feet by 4 feet; only coffins made of wood
should be allowed in this section.[238]

_Section B._ This is of a slightly superior class to the last, the
depth and size may however be the same, but a larger fee can be charged,
and the position of the section with reference to the paths should be
better and more convenient.

_Section C._ This is again superior to either of the former sections.
Extra depth and size may be allowed, and the position should also be

_Section D._ In the previous sections only “common” graves as they are
called should be allowed. In this section either walled graves, vaults,
tombs or common graves may be placed, the common graves may be of extra
depth and size, the space for a vault may be 8 feet 6 inches by 6

This section should be exclusively the borders of the paths and other
spots easily accessible and prominent to view.

_Section E._ This is the best section. No common graves should be
allowed in it, and the spaces allotted for burial may be isolated and of
various sizes according to agreement and payment. Here costly tombs and
monuments are erected, the position of the section being generally near
the chapels.[240]

In all the above sections it is necessary to provide for the burial of
children: these require smaller space and in some instances they can be
buried with their mother, but in separate coffins. Unfortunately it is
necessary to allow rather a large percentage of available space for the
interment of children, as the infant mortality in this country is so

In connection with the question of the plan and the sections for
burial, it may be well to give the following rules and regulations for
the management of a cemetery:

_Cemetery Rules and Regulations._

(1.) All charges for interment, monuments, and gravestones must be paid
at the time the order is granted; no kind of work allowed to be done, or
any corpse brought on the ground without the production of an order.

(2.) Certificates of death to be produced (showing the name of the
parish, &c., and all other requisite information) on paying the fees.

(3.) Two days’ notice to be given for interment in graves, (exclusive of
Sunday,) and three days if a vault or brick grave be required. In
default, an extra charge will be made for working by night.

(4.) The time when the funeral procession will be on the ground to be
named in the notice. An extra fee of        will be charged when the
funeral procession is        minutes later than the time appointed, and
       for every        minutes afterwards.

(5.) The hours of interment are from      A.M. to      P.M. from
Michaelmas to Lady-day, and from      A.M. to      P.M. from Lady-day to

(6.) All brick or stone work in the graves, and all foundations and
fixing of memorials, or planting, shall be under the supervision and
control of the local authority or their appointed agent.

(7.) No grave or vault shall be re-opened by other persons than members
of that family without the written consent of the parties interested and
of the local authority. An extra fee for the interment of strangers will
be charged at the discretion of the local authority.

(8.) In all unbricked graves, coffins of wood only shall be used. No
interment will be allowed nearer the surface than four feet for an
adult, or three feet for a child under 12 years. Every coffin in a
bricked grave or vault to be separately entombed in an air-tight manner.

(9.) No palisades or iron railings to exceed      feet in height, except
with the special consent of the local authority; and no palisades, or
enclosure of any description will be permitted to a grave until a
headstone or tomb has been erected.

(10.) A drawing of every monument or gravestone to be submitted for
approval, and a copy of the intended inscription, if it contains more
than name, age, and date. Inscriptions to be arranged so as to face the
paths as far as practicable. Any question which shall arise touching the
fitness of any monumental inscription, placed in any part of the
consecrated portion of the ground, shall be determined on appeal by the
Bishop of the Diocese.

(11.) All graves and vaults, monuments, gravestones, fencing or other
enclosures, to be kept in repair by the persons interested in their
preservation. If suffered to go out of repair and become unsightly, the
local authority will remove them altogether, and they will not be
allowed to be replaced without the consent of the local authority.
Graves will be kept in order by the local authority for a fee of
per annum.

A plan of the ground, showing each grave space, is kept at the office of
the surveyor to the local authority and may be seen without charge.

The public are admitted to the cemetery, on weekdays, from 7 A.M. to 8
P.M. from Lady-day to Michaelmas, and from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. from
Michaelmas to Lady-day. On Sundays, from 2 to 8 P.M. in summer and 2 to
5 P.M. in winter.

All further information may be obtained at the office.

The local authority forbid any gratuity being received by their

The local authority reserves a right, from time to time, to make any
alteration in the foregoing charges and regulations.

In connection with the above rules, a scale of fees of the charges for
interments must be prepared as well as for headstones, foot-stones,
ledgers, and tombs, or for enclosing any grave with kerbing,
iron-railings, posts and chains, &c.

The practice of allowing persons to plant small shrubs and trees upon
the graves of their friends, should be deprecated, as not only do they
tend eventually to make a cemetery look untidy but they are placed so
close to the graves that when they grow up their roots often split open
a vault or walled grave, and even damage valuable tombstones.

Trees which are suitable for cemeteries, and which would thrive even in
a town atmosphere, are the weeping willow, cypress, yew, cedar, juniper,
birch, ash, weeping elm, and a considerable number and variety of
drooping and other deciduous trees. These should, however, be planted
under the control of the local authority, as otherwise a cemetery would
soon be overrun by them.

The regulations issued by the Secretary of State for the Home Department
in January 1863, for burial grounds provided under the Burial Acts, may
be of use for reference, and are given _in extenso_:

(1.) The burial ground shall be effectually fenced, and, if necessary,
under-drained to such a depth as will prevent water remaining in any
grave or vault.

(2.) The area to be used for graves shall be divided into grave spaces,
to be designated by convenient marks, so that the position of each may
be readily determined, and a corresponding plan kept on which each grave
space shall be shown.

(3.) The grave spaces for the burial of persons above 12 years of age
shall be at least 9 feet by 4 feet, and those for the burial of children
under 12 years of age, 6 feet by 3 feet, or if preferred, half the
measurement of the adult grave space, namely, 4¹⁄₂ feet by 4 feet.

(4.) A register of graves shall be kept in which the name, age, and date
of burial in each shall be duly registered.

(5.) No body shall be buried in any vault or walled grave unless the
coffin be separately entombed in an air-tight manner; that is, by
properly cemented stone or brickwork, which shall never be disturbed.

(6.) One body only shall be buried in a grave at one time, unless the
bodies be those of members of the same family.

(7.) No unwalled grave shall be re-opened within 14 years after the
burial of a person above 12 years of age, or within eight years after
the burial of a child under 12 years of age, unless to bury another
member of the same family, in which case a layer of earth not less than
1 foot thick shall be left undisturbed above the previously buried
coffin; but if on reopening any grave the soil be found to be offensive,
such soil shall not be disturbed, and in no case shall human remains be
removed from the grave.

(8.) No coffin shall be buried in any unwalled grave within 4 feet of
the ordinary level of the ground, unless it contains the body of a child
under 12 years of age, when it shall not be less than 3 feet below that

For further information upon the subject of the Interments Act 1879 and
much useful information in connection with cemeteries, I refer my
readers to ‘Notes and Practical Suggestions upon the Interment Act
1875,’ by T. Baker, Esq.

I cannot close this chapter upon cemeteries without a few words upon a
subject which is analogous, cremation; and although I am aware that this
is a debateable question, still it is impossible for me to be silent, as
from my official experience on the practice of burial, I am so deeply
convinced that cremation should be substituted for it for very many
weighty reasons, that I feel it is necessary for me to give them.

They are as follows:

(1.) Nothing can be more unsanitary or dangerous to the living than the
burial of the dead. This has been enlarged upon over and over again by
men who have well studied the subject and are competent to give an
opinion and to that opinion I add my testimony.

(2.) Nothing can be more loathsome and degrading to the dead bodies of
our friends or more revolting to our feelings, than the horrible
practice of placing the remains of those we love in the soil of a common
churchyard or cemetery, to be devoured with other bodies by worms.

(3.) In placing a dead body under ground we can never be sure how long
the remains will be left undisturbed, a new street or railway will soon
destroy all traces of its resting place,[241] and even the law only
allows a grave to remain undisturbed for a short 14 years.

(4.) In the event of friends or relations dying abroad their remains
cannot be sent home for burial except at great expense, cremation would
reduce the body to a few beautiful silvery ashes which could easily be
brought home and secured on arrival in a suitable and safe

(5.) Cremation is the most respectful and beautiful manner for the
disposal of dead bodies, and need not alarm (on religious grounds[243])
any more than the practice at sea of lowering the dead bodies overboard
to be eventually eaten and digested by marine animals.

(7.) Cremation would settle at once and for ever the vexed question of
burial in consecrated or unconsecrated ground, and all the unseemly
quarrels which have taken place in connection with it from time to

(8.) The great extent of land that is now wasted in public burial
grounds and cemeteries.[244]

There is no reason, even if cremation should take the place of burial,
why the fees for clergymen and others should not remain as at present,
and the unpleasant assistance of the British-ghoul, the undertaker, with
his long face at the ceremony and still longer bill afterwards, could
easily be dispensed with.

The opponents of cremation urge that it would be more expensive than
burial, and consequently out of the reach of the poorer classes, and
also that it would cause so much difficulty in detecting cases of
poisoning, that it would tend to encourage persons to poison others who
happened to be in their way, or objectionable to them, and thus crime
would go unchecked.

If these are the only objections they are easily to be overcome.

First, by constructing public crematories, where for a few shillings a
day sufficient heat could be maintained to consume almost any number of
bodies, whilst the present great expense of maintaining large cemeteries
with their attendant guardians and other costs would be dispensed with;

Secondly, by instituting a scientific and independent enquiry as to the
cause of every death which occurs. This is so much required at the
present day for the sake of the public health, that even if cremation is
never introduced it should be at once enforced, so that those who have
charge of the public health could have exact and reliable knowledge of
the causes of all the deaths throughout the United Kingdom, and thus
obtain such valuable information as would greatly assist in the daily
fight to subdue and overcome deaths from preventable causes.

[230] _Vide_ ‘Fitzgerald’s Public Health Act,’ p. 130, 3rd edition.

[231] _Vide_ ‘Fitzgerald’s Public Health Act,’ p. 131, 3rd edition.
Foot note to clause x. Cemetery Clauses Act 1847.

[232] Cemetery Clauses Act 1847, s. 20.

[233] _Vide_ ‘Cremation of the Dead,’ by William Eassie, C.E. &c. &c.,
p. 50.

[234] The roads and paths in a cemetery require to be carefully made,
in order that they may be available during any weather.

[235] 20 & 21 Vic. c. 81, s. 25.

[236] The following is a description of the manner of burying the
poorer people in the cemetery of Pere la Chaise, near Paris. (_Vide_
‘The Parks, Promenades, and Gardens of Paris,’ by W. Robinson, F.L.S.,
&c., p. 109.) “A very wide trench or fosse is cut wide enough to hold
two rows of coffins placed across it, and 100 yards long or so. Here
they are rapidly stowed in one after another, just as nursery
labourers lay in stock ‘by the heels,’ only much closer, because there
is no earth between the coffins, and wherever the coffins, which are
very like egg-boxes, only somewhat less substantial, happen to be
short so that a little space is left between the two rows, those of
children are placed in lengthwise between them to economise space; the
whole being done exactly as a natty man would pack together turves or
mushroom spawn bricks.”. . . Let us hope that whatever else may be
“taken from the French,” we may never imitate them in their cemetery

[237] Depth of burial varies from 6 to 10 feet, but there must be 4
feet of earth upon the top of the last coffin if an adult, 3 feet if a

[238] A proper grave should be dry when opened, and have a sufficiency
of soil over the coffin to absorb any gases of decomposition; it
should allow an adjoining grave to be opened without collapsing, and
should if possible dispense with the necessity of shoring or close
timbering the sides, and should allow sufficient space for a headstone
to be placed over it.

[239] In a tomb or walled grave, the coffin should be enclosed in an
air-tight case, by means of a stone cemented down which must never
again be moved; or concrete may be used. It is a good plan to put some
charcoal with the coffin to absorb any gases of decomposition in case
of the vault opening accidentally at any future time, and in order to
guard against such an occurrence it is better to leave at least 2 feet
of earth on the top of the grave below the surface of the ground in
walled graves.

[240] “No body shall be buried in any vault under any chapel of the
cemetery or within 15 feet of the outer wall of any such chapel.”
(_Vide_ s. 39, Cemetery Clauses Act 1847.)

[241] In a beautiful out-of-the-way valley in Wales, there is a pretty
village with a quiet churchyard far from the “busy haunts of man,” yet
here it is found necessary to disinter all the bodies, as this
churchyard will soon be 30 feet under the surface of the water of an
immense reservoir now being constructed to supply the living with
drinking water, and it would not be right to leave the bodies there.

[242] The body of Lord Balcarres was (as is now history) removed from
the mausoleum in his own grounds, and only recovered after a most
painful interval; this desecration could not have happened had his
body been cremated and the ashes suitably secured.

[243] I believe it was Lord Shaftesbury whose remark on this point
was, “What would have become of the blessed martyrs, if destruction by
fire was to annul their chances of resurrection?”

[244] The metropolis alone has in addition to the numerous burying
grounds near its parish churches, &c. (many of which have been,
however, dug up and destroyed), the average of which it would be
difficult to determine, the following cemeteries, which may be called
extra mural:

Woking Cemetery 500 acres
Ilford and Leytonstone Cemetery 168 „
Norwood and Nunhead Cemetery 40 „
Highgate Cemetery 40 „
West London at Brompton 40 „
Abney Park Cemetery 32 „
Kensal Green Cemetery 18 „
Victoria Cemetery —-
Tower Hamlets Cemetery —-
Colney Hatch Cemetery —-