Bristol – Arnos Vale
About this cemetery
Arnos Vale Cemetery is a beautiful 45-acre Garden Cemetery nestled in a Grade 2 Listed landscape. It was set up in 1839 the first cemetery in the South West of England. The cemetery was also the first place in the South West to undertake cremations (1929-1989) and still has the original historic cremation chimney in the landscape. Most of Bristol’s leading Victorian citizens, industrialists, philanthropists, artists and scientists rest in the landscape as well as tens of thousands of others. It is also the last resting place of the largest number of WW1 and WW2 service personnel in civilian cemetery in the South West and features three war memorials and two designated areas for war dead and three Victoria Cross holders. The cemetery is also still a working cemetery, accepting burials and cremains and features a natural burial woodland.
There are four fine buildings within the Cemetery – two Entrance Lodges and two Mortuary Chapels (Anglican and Non-conformist). All four buildings are listed Grade II* and were designed by local architect Charles Underwood. These buildings are designed in the style of Ancient Greek temples and reflect the three classical orders of architecture. The Anglican chapel is in the Corinthian style and features a cupola (bell tower) and balustrade. The Non-conformist chapel (now known as the Spielman centre) is in the ionic style with a beautiful pedimented frontage featuring elegantly carved fluted columns. The two gate lodges are in the Doric style and greet the visitor as they arrive from the Bath road entrance.
The site contains 25 Grade II or Grade II* listed monuments, as well as many others which are still of great historic or artistic interest. The Indian style chattri or memorial to Rajah Rammohun Roy is listed Grade 2* and is a Bristol landmark. Many of the cemetery’s most significant monuments are in the lower, older, part of the site. Some parts of the site are well maintained but other parts deliberately left wild. Managing a site like Arnos Vale is often complicated by the need to balance respect for the deceased and their families with personal safety, good conservation management and the protection of heritage
As it was set up as a garden cemetery, it features a wide range of mature native and specimen trees and plants and the cemetery is now being managed as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI). Rare and important plants like field scabious, goldilocks buttercup, burnet saxifrage, lady’s bedstraw and the nationally rare ivy broomrape can be seen in the landscape. In the late winter, the site is carpeted with cheerful yellow primrose and beautiful mature native trees dot the landscape and include Irish yew, oak, willow, western red cedar, cherry, holm oak, Austrian pine and English yew.
The existing grassland, woodland habitats and scrubland habitats are managed to improve habitat quality to benefit wildlife. The woodland is being managed through selective thinning; to improve the canopy structure and encourage biodiversity. Due to this work the site is home to a wide range of native wildlife including deer, bats, badgers, foxes. slow worm, grass snakes, plus owls, buzzards and sparrow hawks. In the spring birdsong fills the air as returning warblers prepare to nest alongside the resident woodpeckers, thrushes and finches. Rare visitors like firecrest and woodcock find shelter in the Winter and unusual migrants such as pied flycatchers and redstarts stop off to refuel on their long journeys in Spring and Autumn.
The Trust welcomes all visitors to experience the history, wildlife and tranquility of the site. A welcome trail leaflet can be collected from the visitor reception, or downloaded from the website, to help guests explore. Entry to the cemetery is free but donations are very welcome. A wide range of wildlife and history tours, public talks and events including cinema, theatre and concerts happening in the buildings and the landscape. The site is also a magical outdoor classroom full of rich education resources and learning opportunities and welcomes hundreds of school children, college and university students yearly.
- Wildflower areas
- Peaceful site for quiet reflection
- Wildlife haven
- Memorials with a famous or infamous connections
- Stones with stories
- Fascinating monuments
- War memorial
- Great for fungi
- Birders paradise
- Lichen haven
? Mixed level access with tarmac, some stone paths and a number of grass paths. There are various benches dotted around the landscape. The whole site is on a slope.
? There is parking on site.
Various types of information and interpretation are available, written, audio, guided tours, also a video presentation in the West Lodge.
Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust,
Bath Road, Bristol
The Bath Road gates are currently open from 9am – 4pm, every day.
The shop is open Wed – Sun.
Please check the Arnos Vale Website for the latest information.
Janine Marriott – Public Engagement Manager
Mixed level access with tarmac, some stone paths and a number of grass paths. There are various benches dotted around the landscape. The whole site is on a slope.
Toilets available in the Spielman Centre
There is parking on site
Yes x39 and number 1 bus. Also 10 minutes drive or twenty minutes walk from Bristol Temple Meads train station. The Cemetery is also on several cycle routes and there is bike parking on site.
The Spielman Centre has a café serving hot and cold drinks, snacks and meals and is open to the public 9.30am to 4pm every day.